COVID-19 Vaccine Information

CHI Memorial is in the process of administering COVID-19 vaccine to our front-line health care employees. At this time, we do not have COVID-19 vaccines for the public and do not have an estimated timeframe for our ability to provide vaccines.

Additional information will be provided here when it becomes available.

Dr. Carlos Baleeiro, pulmonologist and critical care physician, and Dr. Mark Anderson, infectious disease specialist, answer common questions from pulmonary patients about getting the COVID-19 vaccine.

Dr. Carlos Baleeiro, pulmonologist and critical care physician, and Dr. Mark Anderson, infectious disease specialist, explain how the Johnson and Johnson COVID-19 vaccine differs from the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.

Matt Kodsi, MD, Ph.D, Vice President of Medical Affairs, answers COVID-19 vaccine questions.

Matt Kodsi, MD, Ph.D, Vice President of Medical Affairs, answers questions about the COVID-19 vaccine development.

Frequently Asked Questions

At CHI Memorial and CommonSpirit Health, safety is our priority, and we only administer vaccines that are recommended by the FDA as safe and effective. 

Initial supply of COVID-19 vaccines are limited, and federal guidelines indicate that health care workers should be among the first to get the vaccine in order to ensure health systems are able to continue to provide care through the pandemic and beyond. Additionally, first responders and employees and patients in long-term care centers and other similar facilities will also likely receive the vaccines first.  

  • On December 31, 2020, the Hamilton County Health Department began offering vaccine for those age 75 plus. For updates on the Hamilton County Health Department vaccination program, visit health.hamiltontn.org
  • The State of Tennessee offers a digital tool to help residents determine their eligibility for vaccine. 
  • Visit Georgia Department of Public Health's website to learn more about vaccine distribution or call Georgia's COVID-19 Vaccine Hotline at (888) 357-0169.
  • Visit Alabama Public Health's website to learn more about vaccine distribution. 

We expect that vaccines may be widely available by spring or summer 2021.

Initially, a limited number of provider sites will be available to administer the vaccine. On December 31, 2020, the Hamilton County Health Department began offering vaccine for those age 75 plus. For updates on the Hamilton County Health Department vaccination program, visit health.hamiltontn.org. Vaccination information for Tennessee can be found on the Tennessee Department of Health website. Georgia's vaccine hot line is 1.800.357.0169

  • On December 31, 2020, the Hamilton County Health Department began offering vaccine for those age 75 plus. For updates on the Hamilton County Health Department vaccination program, visit health.hamiltontn.org
  • The State of Tennessee offers a digital tool to help residents determine their eligibility for vaccine. 
  • Visit Georgia Department of Public Health's website to learn more about vaccine distribution or call Georgia's COVID-19 Vaccine Hotline at (888) 357-0169.
  • Visit Alabama Public Health's website to learn more about vaccine distribution. 

As soon as we have information regarding the availability of the vaccine for the general public, we will post it on this website.

The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines require two doses, administered three or four weeks apart. When a vaccine is given, information will be provided about when to get the second dose. 

For additional information on the COVID-19 and the vaccine approval process, we recommend reviewing the FAQs on the CDC website and FDA website

·         Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine Fact Sheet 

  • mRNA vaccines take advantage of the process that cells use to make proteins in order to trigger an immune response and build immunity to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. In contrast, most vaccines use weakened or inactivated versions or components of the disease-causing pathogen to stimulate the body’s immune response to create antibodies.
  • mRNA vaccines have strands of genetic material called mRNA inside a special coating. That coating protects the mRNA from enzymes in the body that would otherwise break it down. It also helps the mRNA enter the muscle cells near the vaccination site. mRNA can most easily be described as instructions for the cell on how to make a piece of the “spike protein” that is unique to SARS-CoV-2. Since only part of the protein is made, it does not do any harm to the person vaccinated but it is antigenic. After the piece of the spike protein is made, the cell breaks down the mRNA strand and disposes of them using enzymes in the cell. It is important to note that the mRNA strand never enters the cell’s nucleus or affects genetic material. This information helps counter misinformation about how mRNA vaccines alter or modify someone’s genetic makeup. Once displayed on the cell surface, the protein or antigen causes the immune system to begin producing antibodies and activating Tcells to fight off what it thinks is an infection. These antibodies are specific to the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which means the immune system is primed to protect against future infection. 
  • https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/covid-19/hcp/mrna-vaccine-basics.html 
  • https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/different-vaccines/mrna.html

Normally vaccines can take years to develop as drugs make their way through development, clinical trials, FDA approval, and then manufacturing. Due to the public health crisis numerous companies and governments worked together to develop and isolate vaccine targets which shortened the development phase. Additionally, due to government funding the manufacturing process has been ongoing in hopes that these vaccines would prove effective. In normal situations this would be huge financial risk and would not happen, but due to government funding this “risk” was undertaken in hopes of these vaccines being effective and immediately released to the market. This is the primary reason why the vaccines will reach patients much quicker that under normal circumstances. 

Yes! The data from both Pfizer and Moderna have resulted in 94-95% efficacy. 

No, the vaccines will cause your own cells to make a protein (spike protein) that will then be recognized by your immune system to mount an immune response and provide immunity to COVID-19.

Yes. At this time it is unknown if previous COVID-19 infection will offer comparable immunity as has been demonstrated with the vaccines. You may get the vaccine if you are not actively sick with a severe illness and fever.

At this time we don’t know. However, the vaccines target the “spike protein” of the coronavirus so we expect that unless a significant mutation occurs, we are hopeful for long-term immunity but we simply do not know at this time. 

The data suggests that the vaccines are well tolerated with the most common side effects being injection site pain, fatigue, headache, myalgia, and less commonly fever/chills. It appears that the incidence of these mild side effects are more common than we normally observe for flu vaccines, but these are typically limited to 12-24 hour duration..

The vaccine is administered as an intramuscular injection in the deltoid muscle. The vaccine will be thawed and diluted with room temperature diluent prior to administration.

The vaccines have not been studied in pregnancy and they will not be indicated for this population.

If you have any additional questions, please email COVID@memorial.org. Answers to your questions will be posted on this page.