The COVID-19 vaccines have been the key driver in the decline of COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations and deaths in Tennessee since the peak we experienced in early 2021.
However, the rate of COVID-19 infection in Tennessee once again is rising. Average new daily cases are up by almost 240 percent and our average test positivity rate has more than tripled in the past three weeks. After months of declines, COVID hospitalizations have increased by more than 40 percent in the past 10 days.
This recent increase in cases and hospitalizations is due to Tennessee’s lower than optimal rate of vaccination – currently 38 percent – and the presence of new COVID-19 variants, which are more contagious and may cause more severe illness. According to data from the Tennessee Department of Health, 97 percent of all new cases and 98.5 percent of recent deaths in Tennessee have been among unvaccinated individuals, further underscoring the importance of the COVID-19 vaccine in slowing and eventually stopping the pandemic.
The COVID-19 vaccines provide safe and effective protection against all known variants (including the Delta variant), with very low rates of adverse events.
Vaccination against serious communicable diseases is a long-standing public health practice responsible for the eradication of smallpox, the near eradication of polio, and millions of lives saved worldwide from these and other diseases like measles, rubella, tetanus and diphtheria. Widespread COVID-19 vaccination is especially important to protect individuals who cannot mount a strong response to vaccination themselves.
Hospitals have played the central role in treating individuals with COVID-19 and we recognize that we have an equally important responsibility to encourage and support the vaccination efforts that can protect our communities from further harm. On behalf of Tennessee’s hospitals, the Tennessee Hospital Association urges all eligible Tennesseans who have not already done so to become fully vaccinated against COVID-19. It not only protects you from serious illness and death but also is the path to eventually stop the introduction and spread of COVID-19 variants.