By Shane Reeves, CEO of TwelveStone Health Partners

Like many of our clients and my constituents, I lost a dear friend this past weekend due to COVID-19. Although he had a blood disorder and other comorbidities that simply prevented his immune system from mounting a serious fight against the virus, I have become more convinced each day that this virus is not going anywhere. The “new normal” for this season will include cough, cold, the flu and COVID. There are many opinions about the COVID vaccine and the topic of vaccinations in general. As a healthcare provider and a member of the Tennessee Senate, I have made the decision to get immunized as soon as it becomes available for three reasons.

1. Vaccines are good healthcare.

Based on my background as an experienced pharmacist, I have always believed that vaccines are as important to your overall health as diet and exercise. Research shows that roughly 50,000 adults die from vaccine-preventable diseases in the US each year.

2. The FDA process is safe.

With years of work in the medical field, I have developed faith in the process that the FDA requires of pharma companies to get vaccines, COVID included, ready for market. If there was real risk, I can assure you that we would know about it by now since several vaccines have already reached Phase III clinical trials.

3. Leadership in a pandemic.

I am committed to leading from the front. Between my position as Chief Executive at TwelveStone Health Partners and as a member of the TN Senate, I come into contact with thousands of people each month. I want to ensure that I have some antibodies on board to protect both them and me. A vaccine-preventable disease might only make me ill for a week or two, but it could prove to be deadly for other members of our society that are more vulnerable.

Last week was National Pharmacy Week. I want to offer a sincere thanks to all of our researchers, pharmacists and pharmacy techs that continue to care for people and keep the medications going out the door.

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” – Deuteronomy 31:6