Tennessee Governor Bill Lee said yesterday COVID-19 vaccines will be optional in the state’s K-12 public schools, once they become available.
“Vaccines are a choice and people have the choice and will have the choice in this state as to whether or not they should take that vaccine,” Lee said.
The comment comes as Tennessee and the country look toward initial, limited doses of vaccine that could arrive in the next few weeks, amid a surge in the coronavirus that is increasingly straining hospital systems. In Tennessee, the first doses, likely through Pfizer, could arrive around December 15, 2020.
The first wave will be reserved for frontline health care workers and first responders. The number of initial doses fluctuates pretty widely, but it could be in the 80,000-100,000 dose range initially, with two doses required per person.
Widespread availability would likely be in late spring or early summer 2021.
Tennessee law currently allows parents to refuse to immunize their children as long as the state is in the absence of an epidemic or immediate threat of an epidemic. Other sections of Tennessee statute allow parents to deny immunizations of their kids except where the medical examination, immunization or treatment is necessary for the protection of the health or safety of others.