On July 15, Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC), including Vanderbilt Tullahoma-Harton Hospital (VTHH), announced that COVID-19 vaccinations for employees in designated leadership roles will become required. This was a carefully considered step forward in VUMC’s ongoing efforts to protect its patients and employees from the SARS-CoV-2 virus and its variants.
Since June 1, there have only been 12 patients hospitalized at VUMC who were fully vaccinated for COVID, eight of whom were asymptomatic and admitted for other reasons. There were no deaths among this group. However, during the same period, 92 patients who were unvaccinated were hospitalized for COVID. Twenty-five of these patients were cared for in ICUs, while 10 required ventilator support. Unfortunately, two of these patients died.
With the rate of COVID infections rising in Tennessee and other parts of the country, in part due to newly emerging virus variants, now is the time to act. Accumulating evidence is abundantly clear: COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective for mitigating serious illness and hospitalizations due to all strains of the virus.
Throughout its history VUMC has played a leading role in the development and testing of nearly all vaccines commonly in use today, including those for COVID-19. Our long-standing engagement in leading-edge vaccine science has helped demonstrate that vaccines —including those recently developed for COVID-19— are both safe and effective.
VUMC stands with the Tennessee Hospital Association and other leading bodies such as the Association of American Medical Colleges in its advocacy for all individuals who are not yet vaccinated to do so as soon as possible.
Our state’s increasing numbers of COVID infections and lagging vaccination rates should be of great concern to everyone. The COVID-19 vaccine is the only way to end the pandemic and the time to get vaccinated is now. The vaccine is available at the local health department, as well as many pharmacies and physician clinics.
Rich Ellis, President, VTHH
Julie Joshi, MD, Chief of the Medical Staff, VTHH
William Sanders, MD, Internal Medicine, VTTH
Stephen Bills, MD, Internal Medicine, VTTH