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An Open Letter to the Community

August 23, 2021

Dear West Tennesseans,
Today, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the first COVID-19 vaccine. The vaccine
has been known as the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine, and will now be marketed as
Comirnaty (koe-mir’-na-tee), for the prevention of COVID-19 disease in individuals 16 years of
age and older. The vaccine also continues to be available under emergency use authorization
(EUA), including for individuals 12 through 15 years of age and for the administration of a third
dose in certain immunocompromised individuals.

As the region’s largest healthcare system, providing the highest levels of specialized care during
this pandemic, we are pleading for the public to get vaccinated against COVID-19. We are taking
care of some of the highest numbers of COVID-19 patients in the state of Tennessee, and the
majority of our hospitalized patients (>90%) are unvaccinated.

Our healthcare team members are exhausted, saddened and frustrated that our communities
are not taking simple steps to aid in this crisis. Like the hospitals in Middle Tennessee and in the
Shelby County area, we are seeing increasing numbers of hospitalizations in all of our facilities
and have been operating in surge capacity, but our ICU beds and staff are limited resources.
The number of patients in our facilities threatens to overwhelm our healthcare system, and we
need your help in fighting a war – a war against a virus for which there is a tool to fight it – the

Please know that we are doing all that we can to support and serve our communities, but we
desperately need your help. If you have questions about the vaccine, please contact your
physician or a healthcare provider that you trust. We believe the vaccine is safe and effective
and even though you might still get COVID-19 if you are vaccinated, the chance of becoming
seriously ill, becoming hospitalized or even dying is very low. If you have been vaccinated
already, we thank you!

We have served the region for seventy-one years, taking care of the most serious conditions,
like heart attacks and strokes, and cancer, and we want to continue to do so. However, in this
environment, our ability to continue to do so and provide the best care possible is
compromised when our hospitals are full of COVID-19 patients. We know that this can be

Please stand behind our healthcare workers, and help protect our communities’ access to
quality healthcare in this time of need. We need your help to save lives – NOW!

The Leadership of West Tennessee Healthcare