NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – The Biden administration is continuing efforts to push southern states, including Tennessee, to get vaccination rates higher as the threat of the COVID-19 delta variant continues.
First Lady Dr. Jill Biden will be in Nashville Tuesday for a pop-up vaccination clinic. This comes as Tennessee ranks near the bottom among states in vaccination rates with just over 36% of Tennesseans being fully vaccinated.
“If it starts to spread it will spread among unvaccinated people and cause illness,” Vanderbilt Hospital infectious disease expert Dr. William Schaffner said.
According to the Tennessee Department of Health, as of Friday, there were 19 cases of the delta variant in the state.
“Essentially the only people we’re seeing in hospitals today are people who were unvaccinated or who were partially vaccinated,” Schaffner said.
Last week the vice president’s husband, second gentleman Douglas Emhoff traveled to Memphis and Birmingham, Alabama, to encourage vaccinations.
First lady Jill Biden will be joined by country music singer Brad Paisley at a pop-up vaccination clinic.
“The previous administration provided the resources so we have the vaccine— the new administration comes in and they’re trying to get the vaccine used, get it out of the refrigerator and into arms,” Schaffner said.
Dr. Jason Martin a critical care physician in Sumner County says vaccinations are the only sure way to get past COVID-19.
“It’s the dominate strain in the UK right now where they have 50 percent of adults already vaccinated and so if you look at places like Tennessee where approximately a third of adults are vaccinated it’s a lot more unvaccinated folks out there that the Delta variant could attack,” Martin said.
Dr. Lisa Piercey was unavailable again for an interview concerning the delta variant threat Monday. Piercey’s office told News 2 she’s traveling the state to visit local health department offices.
A spokesperson for the Department of Health released the following statement:
“Tennesseans who have received the COVID-19 vaccine have a more than 99 percent efficacy rate or protection from the coronavirus. The vaccine is effective at preventing against the Delta or B.1.617.2 variant. Our daily case counts continue to show declines in new cases. However, it is important to remind your viewers that the vaccine is the best defense against coronavirus and any new variants that may present as the virus continues to mutate. It is a joint responsibility in the health care community and our media partners to educate individuals on the safety and efficacy of the vaccine and work to discredit some of the unfounded misinformation that continues to circulate.”
Dr. Jill Biden will visit Jackson, Mississippi, before coming to Nashville.