NASHVILLE — When Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee got his flu shot in November, the state's Republican chief executive promoted the event to the public by tweeting a photo of state Health Commissioner Lisa Piercey delivering the shot in his arm while he was in his Capitol office.
That wasn't the case, however, for the governor's first COVID-19 vaccine shot in Tennessee, a state which has the nation's third worst rate among states in terms of vaccinations administered per 100,000 people, lagging all states except Alabama and Georgia.
Asked Monday when he planned to get his shot, the 61-year-old Lee revealed he already had it.
"Well, I've already had my first shot of vaccine, and I'll take the other one in a few weeks," Lee told reporters, adding in response to another question that he got a Pfizer shot on Saturday.
According to the latest figures from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Tennessee's latest rate of COVID-19 vaccinations administered is 37,809 people per 100,000. Alabama has the lowest rate at 33,990 per 100,000, while Georgia's rate is second worst at 35,454.
According to the Johns Hopkins University of Medicine's Coronavirus Resource Center, Tennessee has 13.6% of its population fully vaccinated. Four states have a lower percentage — Arkansas at 12.9%, Texas at 12.8%, Alabama at 12.5% and Georgia at 11.5%. The top states are New Mexico at 22.1% and Alaska at 21.7%.
President Joe Biden, who publicly received his first shot on Dec. 21 as president-elect to encourage people to get vaccinated, last week set a goal of 200 million vaccinations during his first 100 days in office, double his initial 100 million target.
Earlier this month, it was revealed that then-President Donald Trump and his wife, Melania, received their first COVID-19 vaccinations prior to leaving office.
Asked what his own administration's goal is in terms of vaccines administered in Tennessee, where residents in rural areas are lagging on getting shots, Lee said, "Our goal is to make it available to every Tennessean as soon as possible. By the [April] 5th, that will begin.
"Of course," Lee added, "everyone won't get a vaccine on that day. There will be weeks of appointments, vaccinations, with the idea that as many Tennesseans as would like to get the vaccination will get it."
Lee added, "We believe it's important that Tennesseans get a vaccine if they feel so inclined, but we're encouraging them to do so because that's how we'll get most quickly to herd immunity."
Asked if he has a goal of having set numbers of people vaccinated by a certain date, Lee said, "We haven't placed a goal on the number of people that will be able to get it, we just hope that as many people as possible get it."
Contact Andy Sher at email@example.com or 615-255-0550. Follow on Twitter @AndySher1.