LPN Brandy Deere vaccinates Atoka Lt. James Strickland Monday afternoon.

It was over pretty quickly.

“Are you done?” Atoka Police Chief Jessie Poole asked as nurse Buffie Nelms discarded the syringe. He cracked a quick joke, “It’s a little late now to change my mind, I guess …”

He said he didn’t feel much, barely even a sting.


His Lt. James Strickland was the first person to be vaccinated in Tipton County just seconds prior. He smiled when the nurses cheered, telling him he’d just made history.

The two men didn’t realize they’d be the first.

The Moderna vaccine arrived at the Tipton County Health Department Monday and those in Phase 1a1 – healthcare workers, first responders and those in long-term care facilities – will be the first round of recipients.

Nursing director Buffie Nelms, RN, vaccinates Atoka Police Chief Jessie Poole Monday afternoon.

“We are excited to receive these vaccines and see our COVID-19 vaccination activities underway in our community,” said Tipton County Health Department Director Chelsei Granderson. “We’ve 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.”

Several Tipton Countians who work in Shelby County have already been vaccinated, but Strickland and Poole were the first two to be vaccinated by a Tipton County agency.

Poole said he was somewhat nervous, but was confident in the recommendations of the medical and scientific communities.

“You know, the medical staff seems pretty sure of it so hopefully it’s the right thing to do.”

Neither he nor Strickland have had the COVID-19 coronavirus. They will return on Jan. 19 for their second dose.

“Haven’t had it, don’t want it, and if this keeps us from getting it it will be worth it,” Strickland said.

“We work with the public and we’re concerned about it,” Poole said. “This is an added layer of protection for us in case this thing should get worse before it gets better.”

Nurses speak with Lt. James Strickland and Atoka Police Chief Jessie Poole prior to the men being vaccinated against COVID-19.

Vaccinations will be given in the same drive-thru area that has been used for COVID-19 testing. Distribution will continue through several phases and the general public may begin receiving vaccinations as early as the spring.

“We think it’s a monumental day,” said the Tennessee Department of Health’s West Tennessee Regional Director Marilyn Barnes. “We’re making history and that, in itself, is phenomenal. We appreciate the first responders and the assisted living, everyone in 1a1 for stepping up to be vaccinated.”

Barnes said Tipton County doses will be received weekly. Baptist-Tipton has not yet received its shipment, however.

On Monday, Tipton County hit 4,979 confirmed cases and its 50th recorded death from COVID-19. Tennessee spent five consecutive days at the top spot in the nation, and the world, for cases per capita. On Monday, Tennessee dropped to the second spot behind only Oklahoma.

For more information about the vaccine, please see the state’s vaccination dashboard.


Echo Day
Author: Echo Day

Echo Day is an award-winning journalist, photographer and designer. She is currently The Leader's managing editor.