Slightly more than half of Tennessee residents are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. For specific subgroups… the numbers are even lower.  

As new variants of COVID-19 emerge, it’s more important than ever to remain vigilant when it comes to protecting you and your family. Here’s a list of resources designed to answer all of your questions. 


Vaccines 101
children and vaccines
myths and facts
the booster
helpful links


How Can We Protect Ourselves?

With the rise of case numbers and the more contagious Delta variant spreading, it is more important than ever that people get vaccinated as soon as possible. The vaccine is the best defense against COVID-19 and has proven effective at protecting against all forms of the virus including the Delta variant. 

Even those who previously believed themselves to be at a lower risk of severe illness from COVID-19 should exercise caution until they are fully vaccinated. Getting vaccinated and exercising caution in public activities helps protect you and those around you. 

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Are the COVID-19 vaccines safe? Yes! These vaccines have already been given to millions of people and have been shown to be safe and very good at preventing them from getting sick with COVID-19. The safety of COVID-19 vaccines is a top priority. 

How do the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines work? They work by giving your body the recipe to make the protein that is on the outside of the coronavirus. When your body sees that protein, it will make protective antibodies to it. Later, if the body sees the real virus, it will remember seeing that protein and destroy the virus before it has a chance to make you sick. 

After receiving the vaccine, when will I be immune from COVID-19? We have learned from clinical trials involving tens of thousands of people who took the vaccine that vaccination helps protect adults and children ages 5 years and older from getting severely ill with COVID-19.


The AAP recommends COVID-19 vaccination for all children and adolescents 5 years of age and older who do not have contraindications using a COVID-19 vaccine authorized for use for their age.

Videos about COVID-19 Vaccinations for kids in English:

Videos sobre las vacunas COVID-19 para niños en español:

AAP report
Social media toolkit


MYTH: COVID-19 vaccines cause variants

FACT: COVID-19 vaccines do not create or cause variants of the virus that causes COVID-19. Instead, COVID-19 vaccines can help prevent new variants from emerging.

MYTH: All events reported to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) are caused by vaccination

FACT: Anyone can report events to VAERS, even if it is not clear whether a vaccine caused the problem. Because of this, VAERS data alone cannot determine if the reported adverse event was caused by a COVID-19 vaccination.

MYTH: The mRNA vaccine is not considered a vaccine

FACT: mRNA vaccines, such as Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, work differently than other types of vaccines, but they still trigger an immune response inside your body.

MYTH: COVID-19 vaccines contain microchips

FACT: COVID-19 vaccines do not contain microchips. Vaccines are developed to fight against disease and are not administered to track your movement.

MYTH: Receiving a COVID-19 vaccine can make you magnetic

FACT: Receiving a COVID-19 vaccine will not make you magnetic, including at the site of vaccination which is usually your arm.

MYTH: COVID-19 vaccines authorized for use in the United States shed or release their components

FACT: Vaccine shedding is the release or discharge of any of the vaccine components in or outside of the body and can only occur when a vaccine contains a live weakened version of the virus.

MYTH: COVID-19 vaccines can alter my DNA

FACT: COVID-19 vaccines do not change or interact with your DNA in any way.

MYTH: A COVID-19 vaccine can make me sick with COVID-19

FACT: Because none of the authorized COVID-19 vaccines in the United States contain the live virus that causes COVID-19, the vaccine cannot make you sick with COVID-19.


Everyone age 18 and older should get a COVID-19 booster dose. The CDC advises that people who are 18 or older who received the Moderna and Pfizer vaccine should get a booster at least six months after their second shot. Johnson & Johnson recipients who are 18 and older should get a booster at least two months after their initial shot. Adolescents age 12-15 who received the Pfizer vaccine are also eligible to get a booster. 

The CDC’s latest guidance advises people to get the same booster as their initial vaccine, but allows people to mix and match (i.e., get a different COVID-19 booster than their initial vaccine) depending on preference or availability—with the exception of adolescents age 16-17 who are only eligible to receive the Pfizer vaccine.

The emergence of the Omicron variant underscores the importance of vaccination, boosters, and preventive efforts to protect against COVID-19. CDC recommendations on booster doses are based on the latest data, with the goal of ensuring that people have optimal protection against COVID-19 infection, severe illness, and death.

The vaccines work. The COVID-19 vaccines continue to be highly effective in reducing risk of severe disease, hospitalization, and death. CDC data show that in August 2021, the risk of dying from COVID-19 in the U.S. was more than 11 times greater for unvaccinated people than for fully vaccinated people. However, scientists are starting to see reduced protection against mild and moderate disease, especially among certain populations. CDC’s latest guidance is in response to this waning of the efficacy and the recent emergence of the Omicron variant.

booster social media toolkit

If we need a booster dose, does that mean that the vaccines aren’t working?

No. COVID-19 vaccines are working well to prevent severe illness, hospitalization, and death, even against the widely circulating delta variant. However, public health experts are starting to see reduced protection, especially among certain populations, against mild and moderate disease. With cases of COVID-19 still high across the United States and increasing in some parts of the country, the latest CDC recommendations on booster doses help to ensure more people across the U.S. are better protected against COVID-19. 

So does this mean people will need a COVID-19 booster every six months?

At this point we don’t know if additional booster doses, beyond the now recommended or available third dose, will be needed. Booster doses are common for many vaccines. The scientists and medical experts who developed the COVID-19 vaccines will continue to closely watch for signs of waning immunity, how well the vaccines protect against new mutations of the virus, and how that data differ across age groups and risk factors. It is possible that the current booster dose could result in long lasting immunity or alternatively that additional booster doses might be needed in the future, and scientists will be carefully monitoring that issue.

Why is an additional dose of the COVID-19 vaccine recommended for immunocompromised people?

People with compromised immune systems may have a reduced ability to respond to vaccines, and having a weakened immune system can increase the risk of becoming severely ill from COVID-19. The CDC recommends that immunocompromised people who received the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine get an additional dose at least 28 days after their second shot.  All Johnson & Johnson recipients, including immunocompromised people, should get a booster shot at least two months after their initial shot. Data show that an additional dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines helps to increase protection for this group. 


Variants emerge as a result of naturally occurring mutations in viruses. For example, the flu virus changes often, which is why doctors recommend a new flu vaccine each year. 

Scientists monitor all COVID-19 variants but may classify certain ones, like Omicron and Delta, as “variants of concern.” Scientists monitor these variants carefully to learn if they spread more easily, cause more severe cases than other variants, or evade vaccine protection. 

As long as COVID-19 spreads, mutations and new variants are expected to occur, the best way to prevent the spread of COVID-19, including its variants, is to get vaccinated and boosted. Being vaccinated decreases the likelihood you will get sick, and makes it less likely you will need hospitalization or die if you get infected. Increased vaccination rates around the world will decrease the likelihood that the coronavirus will mutate into other dangerous variants. 

Travelers should continue to follow CDC guidance for traveling, along with state and local travel return requirements. After a trip, travelers are recommended to self-monitor for COVID-19 symptoms; and isolate and get tested if you develop symptoms. 

If you plan to travel internationally, you will need to get a COVID-19 viral test (regardless of vaccination status) before you travel by air into the U.S., and show your negative result to the airline before boarding. The CDC recommends that all travelers returning from international travel get tested for COVID-19 3-5 days after travel.  

If you are not fully vaccinated, the CDC also recommends that you get tested for COVID-19 3-5 days after returning from travel (domestic or international), and to stay home and self-quarantine for 7 days after travel. If you don’t get tested, stay home and self-quarantine for 10 days after travel. 

What is the Omicron variant?

Omicron is a new variant of the virus that causes COVID-19. The Omicron variant has been detected in a growing number of countries, including the U.S. 

Are the vaccines effective against this variant?

Studies are underway to answer that question. While it is possible that current vaccines may be less effective against the Omicron variant, vaccine availability is limited in many African countries, and South African officials are reporting that most of the people there who are sick due to the omicron variant were not vaccinated. Vaccines remain widely available in the U.S. and the Omicron variant is yet another reason to get vaccinated and get a booster if you are eligible. 

Is Omicron as serious a health risk as other variants? Is it more or less contagious?

Health officials are collecting data to be able to answer these questions. In the meantime, it is important to remember that any coronavirus infection can be life threatening especially in people with underlying medical conditions. The best way to prevent the spread of this new variant or any other variant is to get vaccinated, get a booster if you are eligible, and to wear a mask in indoor public settings or in a crowded environment. In most places, masking is also required for air, train and bus travel and other forms of public transportation.