/Here’s what we know about COVID-19 vaccines in Mississippi

Here’s what we know about COVID-19 vaccines in Mississippi

Mississippi’s healthcare officials have been focusing on one thing this week: The rollout process of the vaccine will take many months. How that turns out depends on how many and when the state receives them. “We have a light at end of the tunnel but it’s still very dark,” Dr. Paul Byers, Mississippi State Department of Health’s state epidemiologist, said. The date when the general public will be eligible for the vaccine is not yet known. Officials said this week that they hope every Mississippi resident and healthcare worker will be able to receive the vaccine at the beginning of January. After that, Mississippians will have access to the next phase of vaccines, which will include those who are older, essential workers, and people with chronic conditions that increase their risk of contracting COVID-19-related serious illness. Officials are still not sure when this next phase will take place. We have many questions regarding the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, and we are working hard to answer them. If you have questions you’d like us to try to answer, please email adam@mississippitoday.org. We will do our best to answer them quickly. You can visit the MSDH’s vaccine webpage here. As of December 31, 2020, the following is what we know: * Mississippi remains within Phase 1A for vaccine distribution. This phase is for healthcare workers and long-term care staff. According to the Mississippi State Department of Health, Mississippians are currently eligible for the vaccine. The list of healthcare workers includes nurses, doctors, pharmacists, technicians, pharmacists and dietary and food staff. This is approximately 90% of the total doses Mississippi has received. These doses were distributed to Mississippi pharmacies and hospitals that are partnering with the MSDH. Officials from the health department are trying to get the 10% remaining to the state’s healthcare facilities. According to the immunization registry of the health department, 17.410 Mississippians were vaccinated with the first dose out of the 120,000. The state’s healthcare workers are being asked to regularly update the immunization register. Officials from MSDH noted Wednesday that the registry numbers are not accurate and may be delayed. * Officials will open 18 drive-thru vaccination centers across the state on Jan. 3. MSDH and University of Mississippi Medicine Center coordinate this effort. These clinics will be initially targeted at healthcare professionals, such as doctors, nurses, first responders, and doctors. You can find more information about these clinics and where they are located, as well as how to schedule an appointment. Officials will refer to healthcare certifications and licenses in order to verify that the people signing up for their first vaccination appointments are healthcare workers. Officials stated Wednesday that most of the people who sign up for these first vaccine appointments have a healthcare facility identification. “We’ll be verifying all of this.” * MSDH has partnered with Walgreens pharmacies and CVS to distribute vaccines in all 204 long-term nursing facilities in Mississippi. Some LTC facilities have already received vaccines. Officials said that the pharmacists have contacted many other facilities. Byers stated that it would be weeks before the series of vaccines (to long-term facilities) is completed. * Officials aren’t sure who will be included in the next phase of vaccines and when they will start. Officials said Wednesday that a lot of it depends on how many vaccines we receive. Early December experts predicted that the next phases would look like this. However, they have not been formalized yet. * Wednesday’s health officials stated that they are comfortable with the state’s funding for the distribution of the vaccine. They pointed out that 75% of vaccine support funding comes directly from the federal government and 25% will be provided by the state. “We continue receiving that support from federal government. Byers stated that the Legislature is aware that 25% of the cost will be covered and has been working closely with them. Officials stated that Mississippi’s greatest need is to continue to receive vaccine doses._x000D