Seniors can now go online or call to schedule appointments for COVID-19 vaccinations

Older generations eager for vaccination opportunities.
Older generations eager for vaccination opportunities.(WLOX)
Updated: Jan. 6, 2021 at 2:02 PM CST
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs said seniors 75 years old and older can now get vaccinated against COVID-19.

To schedule an appointment at one of the state’s 18 drive-through locations, log onto covidvaccine.umc.edu. Residents can also call 1 (877) 978-6453.

At a meeting Wednesday, Dobbs provided more details about the state’s efforts to distribute the vaccine, saying that he expects a “pretty marked increased in people getting the vaccine,” in the coming weeks.

The state also achieved a major milestone in distribution efforts, by opening up the vaccines to people 75 or older beginning Wednesday.

“We’re well in the process of using all our vaccine. If you look at the (first doses), we used it all in the first two weeks,” he said. “It’s something that takes a little time and we’re comfortable we’re on the right track.”

The state received its first allocation of vaccines in December.

The first vaccinations were allocated to health systems, to vaccinate nurses, doctors, and other workers who deal with COVID patients on a regular basis.

From there, the state opened 18 drive-through centers to vaccinate healthcare workers not affiliated with larger hospital systems.

“We wanted to be high-impact, high volume,” he said. “We started in areas with a high volume of COVID. We’re going to continue high-volume sites and we are going to add some more.”

Dobbs said the Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH) is planning to add a vaccination site in Hinds County and expand the existing site in Rankin County.

Plans also are to increase appointment slots at existing locations as more vaccines become available.

“It will be soon. But keep in mind, the demand will outstrip the supply for a little bit,” he said.

Right now, drive-through clinics can do about 210 vaccinations a day.

He said the rollout has been slower than expected, in part, because the state only received 12,500 doses of the Pfizer vaccine, rather than the 25,000 doses that were anticipated.

Additionally, the state had to deal with several logistical issues, including shipping and storing the Pfizer vaccine. The Pfizer serum has to be stored at 80 degrees below zero for it to remain effective.

Even so, he touted the state’s progress in distributing the vaccinations.

To date, Mississippi has received more than 180,000 doses.

Of those, 78,000 have gone to nursing homes and long-term care facilities in the state; 54,000 have been distributed to health systems, and 9,500 have been sent out to private clinics.

So far, 1.4 percent of the vaccines that have gone to nursing homes have been administered. Forty-three percent of vaccines at health systems have been.

“We expect more and more vaccine to be getting into folks in nursing homes over the next couple of weeks,” he said.

Dobbs said it’s especially important to vaccinate employees at long-term care facilities, saying that doing so could help bring outbreaks at those facilities to an end.

The state health officer continues to urge people to practice social distancing, wear masks and limit social gatherings.

“This pandemic is not going anywhere,” he said. “It will be months before we achieve anything looking like herd immunity.”

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