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COVID-19 is going to be around for a while. Get vaccinated!

Information, news stories, articles and advice are coming at Americans from all sides these days when it comes to COVID-19 — its spread, prevention, and especially about the vaccines, their effectiveness, who is eligible and how to get one.
Locally, and across Northeast Tennessee, we are seeing a surge in COVID-19 cases. Also, there has been an increased number in hospitalizations. However, the number of deaths has decreased.
Warmer weather is on the way. More and more churches are increasing activities, as are schools, and other organizations. The Carter County Car Show is back. All this, despite the surge in COVID-19 cases, and this may be because many in the community have received their COVID-19 vaccinations and they feel protected against the virus.
However, health professionals and scientists suggest the coronavirus is here to say, and a booster shot may be needed by year’s end. This does not mean that we will never go back to normal, rather we will learn how to live with this virus like any other viruses in our life. It is very likely that we will see the COVID-19 pandemic turning into an epidemic. We most likely will see the number of cases decreasing and plateauing, but the virus, itself, will not disappear completely. Just like the flu is with us every year.
The new normal, initially, may look a little different where people might be more conscious about social distancing, frequent hand washing and even, for some, holding on to their face masks for a while. This actually is not necessarily a bad thing when transitioning to a post COVID-19 world. But as time passes and the number of cases and the hospitalization rate starts to go down, COVID-19 will leave the public stage.
But, it is important that people get their COVID-19 vaccinations. They protect you more than anyone else. Vaccines work by teaching the body how a particular infectious agent looks and how to fight against it. If you are vaccinated, chances of getting sick are extremely low, but you can still expose others. So, when you get vaccinated you are protected, but you still need to protect the people around you.
In recent days, the number of vaccinations have dropped for various reasons. We hope that if you have not had your vaccine that you will get in line and get it. Yes, there may be side effects, but the protection it will give you down the road far outweighs the side effects. The most common side effects reported are pain at the injection site, muscle aches, mild fatigue, headaches and joint pain. These side effects are reported to be more common, and more pronounced, after the second dose.
Also, it is important to note that it is expected that young adults may have more side effects than older adults since young adults tend to have stronger immune systems. Either way, this is good news because these side effects are telling you that your immune system is at work and doing what it is supposed to do.
At this point, both the Moderna and Pfizer Vaccines are safe to receive. And, they will give you protection you want and need. We would advise you that if you have not received your vaccination to do so. It is the only way we will get out of this pandemic. And, for the time being, continue to practice social distancing and other precautions.