The COVID-19 Vaccine
After a grueling year of devastation from the COVID-19 pandemic, the time has come for all Tennesseans to make a decision. The same decision that millions of people across the globe are making each day.
Yet the question remains, “Do I need to get the COVID-19 vaccine?”
Opening Up Vaccine Access
The Tennessee Department of Health (TDH) recently released a press statement confirming April 5, 2021 as the date by which all Tennessee adults will be eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccination. The TDH has been consistent in following the vaccination distribution plan they had initially set forth in October 2020, updating and expanding the age-based eligibility criteria to prioritize those most at-risk to experience serious illness or death from the disease.
As of March 18, the TN COVID-19 Vaccination Plan allowed Tennessean’s 55 and older, in addition those who work in settings that had COVID-19 outbreaks and essential state employees, to be eligible to receive a vaccination. TDH has acknowledged that they will expand the eligibility criteria as more vaccines become available.
(Image courtesy of TN Department of Health)
Uncertain, Hesitant, or Just Down Right Not Ready Yet?
In the third week of March 2021, an average 2.49 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines were distributed globally, per day.
Even though vaccine uptake has increased greatly, the harsh reality is that some folks are still not ready to take the COVID-19 vaccine, just yet. Whether waiting for more research, skeptical of vaccines in general, or just uninterested all together, it helps to know the facts. It is everyone’s right to be informed enough to make the best decision for themselves.
What public health professionals are realizing is that this individual decision doesn’t just impact one, it has a sort of domino effect on the decisions of close family, friends and co-workers’ decisions as well. Moreover, as our day-to-day activities begin to pick back up, one decision will also impact those in your broader community as well.
What Do I Need to Know?
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) there is a whole list of benefits that result from getting a COVID-19 vaccine.
Here are some key facts from the most frequently asked questions when considering the COVID-19 vaccination:
● Vaccines Prevent Serious Illness and Death. | All studies to date have shown that the COVID-19 vaccine will keep you from getting the COVID-19 virus and prevent serious illness, even if you happen to get the virus. Which means it takes the risks of death due to COVID-19 away almost entirely. Find more information to better understand the COVID-19 vaccine here.
● COVID-19 Vaccines are Safe. | To date, millions of people have received the COVID-19 vaccines, which has proven to be safe. More details on the safety of the COVID-19 vaccines here.
● Masks are still necessary. | The vaccine is just one tool that can be used to protect you from experiencing serious illness as a result of the COVID-19 virus. Other tools like face masks, frequent hand-washing and social distancing should still be used in public spaces. More details on how to protect yourself after being vaccinated here.
Still have questions? Vanderbilt University Medical Center has pulled a comprehensive list of “Common COVID Vaccine Questions” together. Check out the list to get some credible responses to all your COVID-19 related questions and concerns. If you prefer having your questions answered one-on-one, we recommend discussing the vaccine with your healthcare provider.
How Do I Get the Vaccine?
In Tennessee, a vaccine can be easy to locate if you have access to the internet. Every county health department in Tennessee is distributing COVID-19 vaccines. Appointments with your local health department can be scheduled at https://covid19.tn.gov/.
To increase access, these local health departments are also joined by local pharmacies and health facilities. VaccineFinder.org is a site that allows you to locate distribution sites with just your zip code. Individuals lacking internet access or needing assistance to schedule, should use the TDH vaccine support line at 866-442-5301.
No matter the site you choose, please be sure to set up an appointment and do your best to keep your appointment time.
What Happens After I Take the Vaccine?
After being vaccinated, you are at little to no risk of experiencing serious illness or death if you become infected with the COVID-19 virus. Although it’s safer to congregate with friends and family, preferably those who are also vaccinated, it is still recommended that you wear a face mask in public spaces and maintain social distancing.
What Happens If I Don’t Take the Vaccine?
Continue to stay up to date on the latest information about the COVID-19 virus and potential variations of the virus. Continue to monitor your health, and get tested if you start to experience any COVID-19 symptoms or come into contact with anyone within 14 days of that individual having a confirmed case of COVID.
Be mindful of those who you come into close contact with, such as family, friends, and co-workers. Seek medical attention if you experience trouble breathing, ongoing chest pain, confusion, discoloration in skin, lips, or nails beds.
Should I Get the Vaccine?
Many health professionals would say yes, and without a doubt. After going through a year where many healthcare providers were putting their lives and family at-risk each day to take care of individuals who were severely affected by COVID-19.
The healthcare professionals have been the ones in the thick of this relentless pandemic. Even more, everyone knows of someone who ended up in the hospital or, worse, passed away from COVID-19 last year. The health care providers, those who have lost loved ones and many others want to put the COVID-19 pandemic to an end, and everyone is hoping you do too.
ABOUT THE NASHVILLE NAACP HEALTH COMMITTEE:
The Nashville NAACP Health Committee is committed to eliminating the racial and ethnic inequities that exist within our health care system that undermine communities of color their life opportunities and their ability to contribute fully to the common good. The committee’s health blogs aim to promote health and well-being.