As the number of new COVID-19 cases continue to rise in both Williamson County and state, Tennessee Senate Majority Leader Jack Johnson, along with the entirety of the Republican Caucus leadership team, has signed onto an open letter urging Tennesseans to get vaccinated.
“There has been a recent spike in the number of cases, which includes the virus’ more contagious delta variant - a strong majority of these cases are among those who are not vaccinated," the letter reads.
"Virtually all of those currently hospitalized with COVID-19 have not been vaccinated. As people across our state are exposed to the spread of this deadly virus, we strongly urge Tennesseans who do not have a religious objection or a legitimate medical issue to get vaccinated."
The letter points to the effectiveness of vaccines throughout history in curbing the spread of smallpox and polio. It also attempts to quash concerns over the COVID-19 vaccines' use of mRNA technology by pointing out that the technology has been around for decades, and sees regular use in everyday pharmaceuticals like insulin.
"We are well beyond the COVID-19 vaccine trial stage; nearly 338 million doses of the vaccines have been administered in the U.S. with few adverse effects," the letter reads.
"Please compare the very rare instances of side effects with the more than 600,000 deaths in the U.S. which have occurred due to COVID-19. The facts are clear - the benefits of the vaccines far outweigh the risks."
While endorsing the use of vaccines, state senators make clear in the letter that there will never be a vaccine mandate in the state of Tennessee, something Johnson has spoken adamantly about in the past.
"Under no circumstances will the state of Tennessee require mandatory vaccines or vaccine passports for adults or children," the letter reads. "We recognize this is a personal choice. However, we urge every Tennessean to consider the benefits of the COVID-19 vaccine and talk to your doctor about their recommendations on the best way to protect yourself and your family against COVID-19."
In conclusion, the joint letter reflects on the politicization of the COVID-19 pandemic, and urges Tennesseans to not look at the virus through a political lens, but rather a fact-based lens.
"Unfortunately, efforts to get more people vaccinated have been hampered by politicization of COVID-19," the letter reads.
"This should not be political. Tennesseans need factual information to make educated decisions regarding their health. Please consider looking at the facts which are presented by Vanderbilt University Medical Center or the New England Journal of Medicine, both which are among the most respected health resources worldwide."