Knox Health Department disputes turning down vaccines


The Knox County Health Department has not turned down receiving Pfizer COVID-19  vaccine and will continue to receive standard allotments from the state, Knox County Health officials said in a press release.  

According to the release, the state asked KCHD its preference for receiving one vaccine over the other. 

“We never asked not to be sent Pfizer, we only stated a preference for receiving Moderna,” said Dr. Martha Buchanan, senior director and public health officer for the Knox County Health Department. “The bottom line is this: This preference has no  bearing on the volume of vaccine that KCHD or our community will receive, and we will continue to push  vaccine out to our community as quickly and efficiently as possible.” 

Knox County health officials said the  conversation was unrelated to the events that occurred with almost 975 missing Pfizer vaccines that  KCHD  announced on Wednesday.  

Moderna is easier to store and handle, due to less stringent temperature requirements and is packaged  in smaller allotments (100 doses compared to 975 of Pfizer) – which makes Moderna a better choice for  health officials to share with partners and take to smaller community vaccination clinics. 

For these reasons, KCHD  told the state they preferred to receive Moderna if given a choice, the release said. 

The Knox County Health Department said the amount of vaccine that KCHD receives from the State will not be affected.  

“Knox County’s decision not to receive additional Pfizer vaccine at this time is not at all related to the incident resulting in lost vaccine doses,” said Dr. Michelle Fiscus, medical director of TDH’s Vaccine Preventable Diseases and Immunization Program. “We have frequent conversations with partners, including the Knox County Health Department, and work together to determine which vaccine will best suit the needs of the partner and the state. Knox County Health Department chose to receive Moderna vaccine next week. The choice was not a punitive action, and again, is not the result of what occurred with the missing Pfizer doses.” 

Those who received their first dose of Pfizer vaccine through KCHD will still receive a second dose of  Pfizer.  

To date, more than 62,000 vaccinations have been administered in Knox County.