TENNESSEE (WJHL) – In a Tuesday COVID-19 update media briefing, Tennessee Health Commissioner Dr. Lisa Piercey announced that several changes have been made to the state’s vaccination plan.
Some of the changes announced include language and sign language interpreters who work in healthcare have been moved up to phase 1a2; air traffic control and air cargo workers have been moved up to phase 1b; pregnant women have been moved up to phase 1c; and overnight camp staff have been moved up to phase 3.
“As you know, the current vaccines on the market have not officially completed their clinical trials for pregnant women. However, there have been tens of thousands of pregnant women that have been in these vaccine trials and it does appear to be safe, when the benefits outweigh the risk,” Dr. Piercey said during the call.
One local pregnant woman, Harmony Seymer told News Channel 11’s Bianca Marais that she advocates for the vaccine, and that she would definitely get it.
“Vaccinations are always scary because you don’t really know what’s in them, especially when it’s new and you still don’t know this virus, but when it comes down to it, if it’ll keep me and my kids safe, yes, most definitely,” she said. “It makes me feel safer, especially having a baby in the middle of this mess, it’s not fun. I mean, you’re scared for your baby to get sick, and getting sick yourself while you’re pregnant is a scary thought anyway, so it’d be good to have a vaccination. It’d be great, make me feel more comfortable.”
In a press release following the media call, TDH officials said that pregnant women are at increased risk for hospitalization and death due to COVID-19.
Seymer contracted COVID-19 during her pregnancy.
“When it came down to me getting COVID, I was very scared for my children, to the point that I let them stay with their grandparents for the entire duration of my quarantine, because my son was 6 months old, he had RSV, and that was scary enough, let alone this unknown COVID,” she told News Channel 11’s Bianca Marais.
Her message to other expecting mothers is that they should also consider getting the COVID-19 vaccine when Tennessee enters phase 1c.
“I would do it. Get the vaccine if you have that opportunity because it is not fun, it is scary, and if you have other children, I definitely recommend it because it would not only make you feel safer, but I’m sure your family feels safer and it’s a better peace of mind for your children,” Seymer said. “Just be cautious, wear your mask – it’s very important. A lot of people don’t take it seriously, and I definitely didn’t take it seriously until I got pregnant, and I definitely should have, especially for my children. Don’t take your kids out unless you have to, it’s so important. Your children would not survive that the way we survive that, especially when we have better immune systems than they do, so if you can get that vaccination and you have that opportunity – go for it.”
Pregnant women may choose to receive the COVID-19 vaccine as part of Phase 1c, along with others with high-risk health conditions, the release detailed. They are encouraged to talk with their health care providers to help them make informed decisions about COVID-19 vaccination.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has guidance for pregnant women to help reduce their risk of COVID-19. For that guidance, click HERE.
All Northeast Tennessee counties are currently in phase 1b of vaccine distribution, according to TDH data. According to the release, phase 1b of the state’s COVID-19 vaccination plan includes operations personnel of first responder agencies along with teachers and staff members of schools and child care facilities.
To see which phase your county is in, click HERE.
Tennessee’s COVID-19 Vaccination Plan, according to Dr. Piercey, prioritizes those most at risk of illness and death from COVID-19. The state will continue to move through phases of the state’s COVID-19 vaccination plan as vaccine supplies increase.
A spokeswoman with TDH submitted the following statement to News Channel 11:
“We tentatively expect moving to our 1c populations in March or April. This will depend on vaccine supplies and demand for them. It’s also important to note our estimated timelines are preliminary and subject to change,”TDH Communications Director Shelley Walker