Hesitancy on the COVID-19 vaccine is a huge problem in the United States and has proven to be a hurdle to overcome in order to achieve herd immunity, which is only reached when enough people have been vaccinated against a disease and have developed protective antibodies against future infection.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the nationwide average of people who have taken both doses of a vaccine and achieved full immunity is 49.3%. For Tennessee, the rates are even lower at 38.9%, with Henry County’s rate at 33.9%.

High rates of vaccine hesitancy are estimated across the country, with Henry County having a total hesitancy rate of 43.06% of people who are either hesitant, unsure or strongly hesitant. Multiple myths circulating throughout  the nation through online and social media platforms are heavily to blame. Unreliable sources and anti-vaxxers use influencers to promote their agenda to the masses, spreading rumors that have no scientific basis. 

Just because there is a group on social media created about coronavirus does not mean they are providing factual information. 

Groups can be created by anyone with a social media account so I encourage everyone to be very careful where you get your information. Refer to factual resources such as the CDC, Food and Drug Administration, medical associations and your own personal provider. Now is a time more than ever when we need to rely on our providers and their knowledge to get us through this pandemic.

The COVID-19 delta variant is quickly spreading throughout the nation as well as Tennessee. It has proven to be more contagious and can present with symptoms similar to sinus infections, but has the potential to develop into much more. We are starting to see an uptick in cases in the United States, as well as our local area and this is a cause for concern with vaccination rates so low. As of July 22, more than 80% of new cases in the United States and 97% of hospitalized patients are unvaccinated. The CDC says the 18-49 age range makes up a large percentage of those hospitalized. With 77.7% of adults over 65 being vaccinated, the younger age groups are getting hit harder this time.

The COVID-19 vaccine has been proven to be safe and effective by the CDC as well as the FDA. As with any medication or vaccination, there are potential rare side effects possible, but it has been proven that the benefits outweigh the risks. Myths and rumors surrounding the COVID-19 vaccine include the theory that it will alter DNA, that it will deliver a microchip into your body, cause you to be magnetic, or affect your fertility. There is also talk about “breakthrough” cases where people who have been vaccinated are becoming infected. The Moderna and Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines have shown a 90-91% efficacy rate against the original COVID-19 strains, and 88% efficacy against the delta strain. In those cases where vaccinated people have become infected, most have been mild and did not require hospitalization.

 

VACCINE INFORMATION AVAILABLE

If you are considering being vaccinated or feel hesitant, please talk to your health care provider about your questions and fears. 

Visit the Henry County Medical Center Facebook page to find more information and videos addressing COVID-19 vaccinations.

Pam Evans with Paris Women’s Center and Annamaria Church with Paris Pediatrics discuss COVID vaccination rumors in a video that can be found on the HCMC Facebook page as well as on HCMC’s You Tube page. 

Additionally, HCMC’s pharmacy director, Paula Bell, will be presenting a Facebook Live this week addressing COVID-19 vaccinations and the delta variant. Stay tuned to our social media channels for the date. It can also be watched after the live taping on our Facebook page.

The Pfizer vaccine has been approved for ages 12 and up. HCMC is providing two vaccination clinic opportunities in the near future. 

The first will be this Thursday at Henry County High School at the Meet the Patriots event beginning at 5 p.m. Anyone 12 and older is eligible; however, parents must be present in order for children under 18 to receive the vaccine as well as bring identification. 

The second event will be from 8-11 a.m. Saturday at Paris Pediatrics. Appointments are encouraged for these events by calling 336-6155 or emailing kwinston@hcmc-tn.org. Walk-ins are welcome. 

If you cannot make it to one of these events, vaccines are readily available at the local health department, as well as at most local pharmacies. Vaccination sites can also be found at www.vaccinefinder.org. For more information visit www.hcmc-tn.org or call the HCMC Findline at 644-3463.

 

LORI STAMBAUGH is the community nurse educator at Henry County Medical Center. A registered nurse, she has a bachelor’s degree in nursing.

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