JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves says Mississippians over the age of 65 and those with pre-existing conditions are now eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
Reeves held a press conference Tuesday afternoon to discuss vaccines and the latest effort to combat coronavirus in the state.
“We’re working ahead of schedule, but we’re never working quickly enough,” he said. “We believe we are headed in the right direction, and I was happy to see just yesterday that we exceeded our friends and neighbors in Alabama and Arkansas in the number of vaccines administered.”
Reeves said he expects shots to be opened up to teachers, firefighters, police officers, and other first responders soon.
Speaking to that audience, the governor said, “You’re on deck. The next time we have an update, it will be to announce the vaccine will become available to you. Please stay tuned.”
He said that announcement could come as early as next week.
However, he urged teachers and other essential employees with pre-existing conditions to schedule a shot as soon as possible.
“Don’t wait and get an appointment today,” he said.
Pre-existing conditions include diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, obesity, sickle cell anemia, and others.
The governor said it’s imperative that more and more people are vaccinated as the federal government changes rules for vaccine distribution.
“It has been made clear that going forward, probably as soon as a week or two from now, it’s likely that the federal government will be reallocating and redistributing vaccines based on the ability to get shots in arms,” he said. “That’s why it’s so important we get these vaccines out.”
Last week, Reeves admitted the vaccine rollout in Mississippi has been slower than he desired, and announced plans to expedite the process with more drive-thru clinics.
The efforts appear to be paying off. On January 12, some 62,744 vaccinations have been given, up more than 7,500 from the day before, Reeves said.
“You may recall a week ago we had done just over 20,000. We’ve more than doubled the total output in the last week alone,” he said. “We believe we have a plan that will double yet again in week five what we did in week four.”
By the end of the week, the governor said the state will have the ability to do approximately 30,000 shots per week at its state-operated drive-through centers.
At the same time, the state is increasing its capacity at its COVID-19 hotline to reduce wait times and abandonment rates on calls.
“We’re only going to keep improving. It has to get better,” he said. “That is our mission now.”
Meanwhile, COVID deaths continue to climb. A record-high 98 deaths were reported by the Mississippi Department of Health on Tuesday.
Seventy-eight of Mississippi’s 82 counties are under a mask mandate that is set to expire Friday. Reeves said the order would likely be extended “in substantial form,” with some counties removed or added based on COVID-19 data.
You can call 1-877-978-6453 or go to covidvaccine.umc.edu to schedule a vaccine.