(The Center Square) – A first shipment of 975 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine arrived in Tennessee on Monday, but there are no plans to administer the vaccine until larger shipments arrive to hospitals on Thursday.

Instead, the early shipment of the vaccine will be held “as an emergency backup supply, should any receiving hospital’s supply be damaged,” the Tennessee Department of Health announced Monday.

Elsewhere in the country, health care workers and first responders began receiving the first doses of the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine on Monday. The vaccine was approved for emergency use by the FDA on Friday.

Tennessee expects 56,550 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine to arrive in the state on Wednesday and be distributed to 74 hospitals on Thursday. The BioNTech vaccine requires two doses administered weeks apart. A second shipment of 56,500 doses will arrive in Tennessee in three weeks, according to the Department of Health.

“We have been preparing for months to distribute approved vaccines and we believe this will be a safe and effective tool in the fight against COVID-19,” Tennessee Health Commissioner Lisa Piercey said. “Our initial supplies of this vaccine are limited, but we are in constant contact with hospitals to prepare administration for our front-line health care workers and long-term care facility residents and staff who choose to receive it.”

Last week, Piercey traveled with Gov. Bill Lee to take part in a White House Summit on COVID-19 vaccine distribution, where Lee estimated that the vaccine would be administered within 24 to 48 hours of being delivered to the state.

The state reported 10,319 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday – the second highest number of cases ever reported in one day, after the 11,300 new cases reported Sunday. The test positivity rate is 16.5. The seven-day average of new cases is 7,985 – the highest ever reported.

This article was initially published at TheCenterSquare

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