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UCHD promotes vaccine as protection against virus variants

Erwin Record photo by Richard Rourk • Unicoi County Schools Health and Safety Supervisor Tammy Larkey receives her vaccination at a Unicoi County Health Department vaccination drive-thru site earlier this year.

By Richard Rourk

The Delta variant of COVID-19 has made its way to Tennessee as health officials continue to provide COVID-19 vaccines.

The Delta variant of the virus was first detected in the United States in March 2021 after being initially identified in India in December 2020. 

The CDC confirms through cdc.gov that these variants of the virus seem to spread more easily and quickly than others variants, which may lead to more cases of COVID-19. The CDC also warns that an increase in the number of cases will put more strain on healthcare resources, lead to more hospitalizations and potentially cause more deaths. So far, studies suggest that the current authorized vaccines work on the circulating variants. 

Scientists with the CDC and other organizations are continuing to study the delta variant and other variants.

The Unicoi County Health Department is reporting that the delta variant has been reported in Tennessee but the alpha variant is still the most dominant strain in Tennessee. 

“As of June 25, there were 27 cases of the delta variant in Tennessee which is very low compared to other variant counts and not the leading variant in the state, which is the alpha variant,” Unicoi County Health Department Director Michelle Ramsey told The Erwin Record.

Tennesseans who have received the COVID-19 vaccine have a more than 99 percent efficacy rate or protection from the coronavirus. 

“The vaccine is effective at preventing the delta or B.1.617.2 variant,” Ramsey said. “Our daily case counts continue to show declines in new cases. However, it is important to remind your readers that the vaccine is the best defense against coronavirus and any new variants that may present as the virus continues to mutate.”

As of July 1, 41.8% of Tennesseans have received at least one of two vaccine shots and 37.3% of Tennesseans have been fully vaccinated.

In Unicoi County, as of July 1, 42.26% of residents have had at least one vaccine shot and 38.82% of residents have been fully vaccinated. 

Anyone wanting to schedule a vaccine at the Unicoi County Health Department can call (423) 743-9103 Monday-Friday between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.  Appointments are not necessary and anyone can come to the health department Monday-Friday between 8:30 a.m. and 4 p.m. to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

Anyone wanting to schedule a COVID-19 vaccine at another location should visit www.vaccinefinder.org for assistance.

The public can find information on the variants in Tennessee on the health department website at www.tn.gov/content/dam/tn/health/documents/cedep/novel-coronavirus/CriticalIndicatorReport.pdf. This report is updated regularly.  

The public can also find information about variant proportions on the CDC website at covid.cdc.gov/covid-data-tracker/#variant-proportions. 

The staff at the Unicoi County Health Department can also provide information about WIC and family planning, as well as offer school immunizations, as well as breast and cervical cancer screenings. The department also offers CHANT care coordination to address gaps in clients’ medical, social, developmental, behavioral and educational support system needs.

The department also promotes the Baby and Me Tobacco-Free program and can offer dental and communicable disease services. 

The Unicoi County Health Department, which is located at 101 Okolona Drive, Erwin, is open Monday-Friday between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.