The three COVID-19 vaccines being offered in the U.S. are safe and effective, and they have been tested on tens of thousands of volunteers. In Bedford County, vaccines are now available to anyone 16 and over who wants one. Vaccinating a significant percentage of the population is a key to defeating the virus which has taken so many lives and which has disrupted everything from family gatherings to the economy.
Almost 20 percent of eligible Bedford County residents have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine, and 9.7 percent are completely vaccinated. But that number must increase if we are to achieve group immunity.
The quickest way to secure a vaccination appointment through the health department is by going to vaccinate.tn.gov and signing up online. But that hasn’t worked for everyone.
“Health department officials have told me that some people have had problems with the state’s on-line registration system for vaccination appointments,” said Bedford County Emergency Management Agency Director Scott Johnson, who chairs the county’s COVID-19 task force. “Depending on your browser, your operating system and the type of device you’re using, it may seem to tell you there’s no vaccine available. This is usually not true.
“If you have any trouble using the online system, call the health department, either locally, at 931-684-3426, or at the regional COVID-19 hotline, 931-490-8312. They can tell you for certain whether vaccine is available and help you with scheduling an appointment. If the line is busy, please be patient. The local and regional health department staff is working as hard as they can to serve the public.”
The Health Department is offering the vaccine at Bedford County Agriculture and Education Center, 2119 Midland Road.
You can also find other vaccination providers serving Bedford County by going to vaccinefinder.org. Vanderbilt Bedford Hospital (formerly Tennova Healthcare-Shelbyville) and several pharmacies in Shelbyville are offering the vaccine. You can contact those providers directly to find out about their procedures and availability.
Are the vaccines safe and effective?
Yes! The process for emergency approval was a rigorous one, requiring tens of thousands of volunteers to receive the vaccine and be monitored for complications. Medical officials say the vaccines are safe and effective.
The Pfizer vaccine is 95 percent effective at preventing illness from COVID-19, and the Moderna vaccine has a 94.5 percent effectiveness rate. Both of those vaccines require two doses.
The single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which works differently, is 85 percent effective in preventing users from contracting the disease, but is almost 100 percent effective at preventing severe complications which lead to hospitalization or death.
Currently, the health department is giving the Pfizer vaccine to those receiving their first dose and is continuing to give second doses of Moderna to those who received the Moderna vaccine for their first dose. One advantage of the Pfizer vaccine is that it is approved for ages 16 and up, while the Moderna vaccine is approved for ages 18 and up.
The vaccinefinder.org website will tell you which vaccines are being offered by which providers. The important thing is to be vaccinated, whichever formula is available at your preferred provider.
For more information about COVID-19, go to covid19.tn.gov.