People are anxious to receive the recently approved COVID-19 vaccine, according to U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann (R-TN).
In an interview with The Daily Post-Athenian on Monday, Fleischmann said while there have been concerns about the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines expressed by local residents, there has also been a lot of optimism as well.
“There are people who have called me who have allergies and other concerns and I certainly am not only empathetic to that, I’m sympathetic to that,” he said. “That has been the vast minority of my phone calls. The vast majority have been ‘when can I get this congressman,’ how quickly and where. That’s where we’re working with our state partners.”
He added that he’s happy with the way various agencies and businesses came together to make the vaccines a reality in such a short time.
“I voted for several COVID relief packages, including the last one which was attached to an appropriations package as a rather large, combined deal,” he said. “It provided the private sector and federal government with the resources to move on Operation Warp Speed to prepare and perfect a vaccine as soon as possible.”
Fleischmann said there was a time that having a vaccine now seemed pretty unlikely.
“In February of last year, when COVID began, I met with infectious disease doctors because I wanted to get my information for my constituents from medical personnel and not from bureaucrats or politicians,” he explained. “They told me at that time, to perfect a vaccine, it might take a year or two years.”
To shrink that window to less than a year was a significant accomplishment, he added.
“I think all of us ought to be praised and lauded for the way in which we got together as a nation and now we have vaccines that are being distributed to the states and I’m very pleased (Tennessee) Gov. (Bill) Lee has kept in constant communication with the federal delegation — Republicans and Democrats, we’ve all worked together on this,” he said. “I hope more and more Americans will have access to this vaccine or the vaccine of their choosing.”
Fleischmann said he’s happy with how Tennessee is handling the distribution of the vaccine as well.
“Under the circumstances they’ve been given, I applaud the state for the way they’ve managed the COVID funds we have given them in a very wise and fiscally responsible manner,” he said. “I think our state is doing the best job it can under the circumstances to get the vaccine to those who are most in need.”
Much of Tennessee is currently in phase 1a2, which is the period for vaccinating residents 75 years or older.