COVID-19 Vaccine

Tennessee Vaccination Plan

The vaccines are currently only available to people who meet the following criteria.

  • First responders with direct public exposure including EMS, law enforcement, and fire fighters
  • Staff working at COVID-19 mass testing sites
  • Staff and residents of long-term care facilities, residential homes for the aged and staff and residents of assisted living centers who have direct contact with residents or contact with potentially infectious materials
  • Staff of other congregate care facilities such as homes for the intellectually or developmentally disabled, detention centers, Staff of Department of Children’s Services residential facilities, rehabilitation hospitals and psychiatric hospitals who have direct patient contact or contact with potentially infectious materials
  • Home health care staff with direct patient contact
  • Staff and residents of long-term care facilities, residential homes for the aged and staff and residents of assisted living centers who have direct contact with residents or contact with potentially infectious materials
  • Providers of K-12 or university student health services who have direct patient contact or contact with potentially infectious materials

Eligible participants are being contacted through their employer/facility and are required to sign up for an appointment online scheduling and must bring an employee badge or ID.  

Once this phase has been completed, the Health Department and partnering agencies will begin the vaccination of the other groups, which include other health care workers who have direct patient exposure.

How does the COVID-19 Vaccine work?

The Immune System—The Body’s Defense Against Infection

To understand how COVID-19 vaccines work, it helps to first look at how our bodies fight illness. When germs, such as the virus that causes COVID-19, invade our bodies, they attack and multiply. This invasion, called an infection, is what causes illness. Our immune system uses several tools to fight infection. Blood contains red cells, which carry oxygen to tissues and organs, and white or immune cells, which fight infection.

COVID-19 Vaccines

COVID-19 vaccines help our bodies develop immunity to the virus that causes COVID-19 without us getting the illness. Different types of vaccines work in different ways to offer protection, but with all types of vaccines, the body is left with a supply of white cells (our infection fighting cells) that will remember how to fight that virus in the future.

Sometimes after vaccination, the process of building immunity can cause mild symptoms, such as fever or achiness. These symptoms are normal and are a sign that the body is building immunity.  Mild symptoms may occur the day following the vaccination and resolve within 24-36 hours.

The vaccines are very effective and safe and will not give you COVID-19. The vaccine that will be available in Shelby County is a mRNA vaccine provided by Pfizer and Moderna.  These vaccines contain material from the virus that causes COVID-19, which gives cells instructions for making a harmless protein that is unique to the virus. After cells make copies of the protein, they destroy the genetic material from the vaccine. The body recognizes that the protein should not be there and builds  blood cells that will remember how to fight the virus that causes COVID-19 if we are infected in the future.