MSDH breaks down latest with vaccine distribution plans

MSDH breaks down latest with vaccine distribution plans

JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - The demand for the COVID-19 vaccine is still greater than the supply, but the state is working to explain their decision making on the distribution.

You’ve heard a lot about who is currently eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine in Mississippi, those over 65 and people 16 and up with pre-existing conditions. But maybe you’ve wondered how the state is deciding where to send the doses. It started out partly based on population and location space. But now, it’s shifting.

“Some of the things that we’re looking at is what is the estimated at risk population by race, by age group, by other social determinants,” said State Epidemiologist Dr. Paul Byers. “Try to get an idea of what kind of penetration we’re having with vaccination of those vulnerable groups by the county.”

Still, you should know this as far as location of the shots.

“It doesn’t mean it’s going to be a drive-through site, right?” explained State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs. “It may well be partners but we’re trying to work with those who already have established connections in the community.”

But some counties like Lawrence and Warren Counties have drive-through sites that will be supported by the state.

“Some counties are exploring and contacting us about wanting to set up their own drive-through location,” said MSDH Director of Health Protection Jim Craig. “But there are a lot of challenges. And one of the main ones is finding enough medical staffing to go through a drive-through operation… let’s say at a hospital. While we have hospitals that are still seeing quite a few patients, COVID and others, freeing up those resources to come work drive-through is a little problematic and many of the counties.”

The state’s weekly allocation will boost from 37,00 to 43,000 next week. Plus, there will be an added amount back in rotation for community partner locations.

“We were able to reclaim about 9,000 doses of Pfizer vaccine from the long-term care program in collaboration,” said Dr. Dobbs. “In collaboration with the Governor’s office, we’ve been working with CVS and Walgreens to determine the excess of Pfizer vaccine that they had in their inventories that we were able to pull down.”

We asked the Department of Health about the single-dose Johnson and Johnson vaccine that made headlines Friday. Byers says he would want to see more hard data before commenting on its efficacy and whether or not it would be used here in Mississippi.

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