COVID-19 vaccine, 'the one ray of hope,' could reach Tennessee by mid-December

This May 4, 2020, file photo provided by the University of Maryland School of Medicine, shows the first patient enrolled in Pfizer's COVID-19 coronavirus vaccine clinical trial at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore. (Courtesy of University of Maryland School of Medicine via AP, File)

Tennessee's first shipment of highly anticipated coronavirus vaccine is expected to arrive in about three weeks, according to the state's top health official.

Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine will be the first shipped out across the United States and should reach Tennessee around Dec. 15. Dr. Lisa Piercey, commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Health, shared the news during a briefing Tuesday.

How many doses the state will receive is fluid, but Piercey said the ballpark for the initial shipment is between 80,000 and 100,000 doses. Each person will need two doses of vaccine spaced several weeks apart, meaning the first allotment will cover between 40,000 and 50,000 people.

"This is the one ray of hope that we've got, and so we are putting a ton of effort forth to make sure we get it to you as fast and as safely as possible," Piercey said, adding that all vaccine distribution plans are subject to change.