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More people choosing to vaccinate as delta variant continues surging, experts recommend masks

By Richard Rourk

Health officials say that more Tennesseans are getting vaccinated in Unicoi County and across the Volunteer State.

“We are seeing an uptick of individuals getting the vaccine in Unicoi County and across the state,” said Tennessee Department of Health Healthy Development Coordinator Ashley Davies.

“The Unicoi County Health Department continues to offer COVID-19 vaccine to anyone age 12 and older without an appointment between 8:30 a.m. and 4 p.m. Monday through Friday,” Davies added.

TDH is also acting upon recent guidance from the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention regarding an additional dose of the COVID-19 vaccine for moderately and severely immunocompromised individuals.

On Aug. 13, the CDC accepted ACIP recommendations for an additional dose of the mRNA COVID-19 vaccine. This includes approval for a third dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine (approved for individuals aged 12 years and above) and the Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine (approved for individuals aged 18 years and above). The recommendation from the CDC does not yet include approval for an additional dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

The Tennessee Department of Health encourages Tennesseans to talk with their health care provider about their medical condition, and whether getting an additional dose is appropriate for them.

Based on the recommendations from the FDA and CDC, moderately and severely immunocompromised individuals, are defined as:
• Receiving active cancer treatment for tumors or cancers of the blood
• Received an organ transplant and are taking medicine to suppress the immune system
• Received a stem cell transplant within the last two years or are taking medicine to suppress the immune system
• Moderate or severe primary immunodeficiency (such as DiGeorge syndrome, Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome)
• Advanced or untreated HIV infection
• Active treatment with high-dose corticosteroids or other drugs that may suppress your immune response

More information on the CDC’s recommendation for an additional dose the COVID-19 vaccine is available online.

A notification has been sent to all Tennessee providers with information on these recommendations. Providers are encouraged to begin offering the additional dose option to eligible patients. Visit www.Vaccines.gov to find a vaccine site offering the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine. Patients do not need to prove their diagnosis to be eligible for an additional vaccine dose. Local health departments across the state will be administering the additional dose option with no appointment necessary.

Individuals seeking more information on the COVID-19 vaccines can visit covid19.tn.gov or www.vaccines.gov to schedule an appointment with a local vaccine provider. Learn more about TDH services and programs at www.tn.gov/health.

For Davies and company, the fact that the Tennessee Department of Health is seeing more individuals move forward with vaccine options is encouraging.

Davies suggests that Tennesseans continue to stay diligent in the fight against COVID-19.

“Cloth face coverings are an important step to help slow the spread of COVID-19 when combined with other everyday preventive actions, including social distancing and frequent handwashing,” Davies said. “The vaccine is our best defense against COVID-19 including the Delta variant.”

FDA

The FDA has approved the first COVID-19 vaccine for the prevention of COVID-19 disease in individuals 16 years of age and older.

The vaccine also continues to be available under emergency use authorization (EUA), including for individuals 12 through 15 years of age and for the administration of a third dose in certain immunocompromised individuals.

“The FDA’s approval of this vaccine is a milestone as we continue to battle the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Acting FDA Commissioner Dr. Janet Woodcock.

“Our scientific and medical experts conducted an incredibly thorough and thoughtful evaluation of this vaccine,” said Dr. Peter Marks, director of the Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research. “Although we approved this vaccine expeditiously, it was fully in keeping with our existing high standards for vaccines in the U.S.”