As we come up on the one year anniversary of the first Chattanooga COVID-19 stay-at-home order, National Public Radio reports that around 80 million vaccine doses have been administered in the United States, reaching 15.9 percent of the population to date. This includes all forms of medical personnel, those who are 75 years of age and older, some government officials, those who are particularly at risk for contracting the virus, and just recently in Tennessee: Teachers!
On Monday, Feb. 22, Hamilton County moved into vaccine distribution for phase1B, which includes individuals ages 65 and older, teachers for daycare through twelfth grade, other school staff, and bus drivers. The vaccines distributed during this phase still include the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, which require two doses. In addition, the Johnson and Johnson vaccine was approved on Feb. 27, requires a single dose, and is still 85 percent effective in preventing bad outcomes from the COVID-19 virus.
Hamilton County is distributing vaccines at three outside locations: the Carta Bus Barn, the Tennessee Riverpark, and the Enterprise South Nature Park. If you are a Baylor teacher, One to One Health has been approved to administer vaccines to Baylor faculty and staff at East Ridge Elementary School on certain dates. Although it is not required for teachers to get the vaccine, it is likely many will, either for their own health, the health of family members, or simply to expedite the ongoing process of returning to normal life.
For life to return to normal, including returning to school without having to follow COVID-19 protocols, around 75-80 percent of the population would need to be vaccinated. As many vaccine companies are promising high amounts of vaccine distribution to the U.S., this number is hoped to be reached by summer. Students under 18 will likely have to wait until well into the summer months to receive a vaccine. Moving into this most recent phase is just one step in achieving the normalcy of life that we all crave. As the COVID-19 virus still affects people worldwide, please continue to follow mask guidelines and social distancing.