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As COVID-19 continues to impact our communities, we eagerly await a vaccine to combat it. You may have a few questions about COVID-19 vaccines and their safety. We’ve covered the top five things you should know about COVID-19 vaccines to keep you informed.

Will the vaccines be safe?

The path to an approved vaccine begins with research involving tens of thousands of volunteers and careful review of all of the data. These data are studied by medical and research experts to make sure the vaccines are safe and show clear benefit. Vaccine manufacturers also have to abide by strict manufacturing and quality control regulations.

That means that no vaccines will be released in the U.S. without data that clearly shows that they can prevent COVID-19 and are safe for use. Visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website for more information about vaccine safety and development processes.

Are the vaccines being tested?

As of November 1, 2020, there are five vaccines that have begun large-scale (phase 3) clinical trials in the United States.

These COVID-19 vaccines have already been given to tens of thousands of volunteers who are monitored closely to make sure the vaccines are working and safe.

Who will get the vaccines?

When COVID-19 vaccines become available, which is likely to be in December 2020 or January 2021, vaccines will be given first to those who are at the highest risk for exposure, such as front-line healthcare workers, and to those at high risk of severe illness or death. This plan is based on CDC recommendations for distributing the initial limited supply of vaccines.

Once vaccines become widely available, estimated to be spring or summer of 2021, anyone who wants a vaccine will be able to get one. The federal government is providing COVID-19 vaccines to all people at no cost to them. If you want a vaccine, you’ll be able to get a vaccine—even if you don’t have health insurance.

How many doses of vaccine will I need?

Most COVID-19 vaccines that will become available in the US over the next year will require two doses, spaced three to four weeks apart. The first dose only “primes” the immune system and will likely not provide much, if any, protection from infection. The second dose is what creates the lasting protection against the virus. If you get a vaccine that needs two doses, be sure to get both!

What About Tennessee?

Tennessee is waiting to learn details regarding the vaccines that will be provided  from the federal government. 

Once we have the vaccine available in Tennessee, it will be distributed in phases, with hospitals and health departments receiving vaccines first in order to vaccinate front-line health care workers and those at highest risk of serious disease. View Tennessee’s distribution plan

Choose to live responsibly as we wait for an effective vaccine by washing your hands, wearing a mask any time you are within six feet of someone who is not living in your home, and distancing yourself from others. For more information on preventative actions and how to protect yourself from COVID-19, check out our prevention information.