This afternoon, the Mississippi State Department of Health updated the latest on the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine as the state surpassed 330,000 administered doses.
Currently, around 1.4 million Mississippians are eligible to receive the vaccine with those over the age of 65 and those with underlying health conditions qualifying. According to State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs, among the most at-risk ages, 39% of 75+ Mississippians and 32% of 65+ residents have gotten at least their first dose.
In an effort to expand access for those over 75, there is now a specific option that can be selected when scheduling an appointment through the MSDH hotline at 877-978-6453.
Teachers and first responders will be the next eligible groups, but Dr. Dobbs stated that may not occur for at least a few more weeks.
Something that could speed up the process is the addition of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which has been submitted to the FDA for emergency authorization. The single-shot candidate is showing 100% efficacy in preventing hospitalizations and death while not performing quite as well as the current options in terms of preventing symptomatic illness.
An issue that has arisen in recent weeks is out-of-state residents getting vaccinated in Mississippi. State Epidemiologist Dr. Paul Byers explained that even if you live out of state, you are eligible if you work in Mississippi as long as you meet the current requirements. To date, 6,777 doses have been administered to individuals with an out-of-state address.
Beginning this week, 31 Mississippi Walmarts will begin receiving doses through a new federal partnership. The list of stores can be found, here.
Earlier today, the MSDH confirmed 635 new cases of COVID-19. With case numbers and hospitalizations dropping, Dr. Dobbs urged everyone not to let their guard down and continue to wear your masks and avoid large social gatherings.
“Because we’re making progress that doesn’t mean that we can quit doing those simple things that prevent transmission…We have an opportunity right now to get as many people vaccinated as possible and try to get a lid on this thing in the state of Mississippi,” Dr, Dobbs said.
Last week, Governor Tate Reeves extended the mask mandate for 75 of Mississippi’s 82 counties through March 3rd.