‘Right time to do it’: Health experts explain decision to open vaccines to all

‘Right time to do it’: Health experts explain decision to open vaccines to all

JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs, State Epidemiologist Dr. Paul Byers and Senior Deputy and Director of Health Protection Jim Craig discussed the COVID-19 vaccine as it’s opened to all Mississippians on Tuesday.

Anyone over 16 years old can now apply to get their COVID-19 vaccine. Only the Pfizer vaccine is approved for those under 18.

“Certainly it’s the right time to do it; we need to get vaccines out as quickly as possible [...] Now is the time to open up so we can maximize the amount of people getting this vaccine,” Dobbs said.

Dr. Byers says the decrease in deaths and cases is encouraging. He said no long-term care outbreaks were reported last week, and the total statewide is now under 40.

He says it’s still a good idea to gather in small groups and wear a mask, but noted that everything is safer when everyone is fully vaccinated.

Craig said all state-run drive-thru vaccine sites are closed for Wednesday, March 17, due to the threat of severe weather across the state. Anyone with a scheduled appointment will be rescheduled for the same time and location on a different day.

Byers said the health department is currently testing about 75 samples per week for new variants of the virus--so far 9 cases have been found of one variant.

No other variants have been discovered, but Byers said they will soon ramp up the amount of testing, and they expect to find more.

“There is a great personal benefit to getting vaccinated,” Dobbs said, noting that people won’t have to quarantine any longer.

Dobbs attributes the slow starts to vaccinations in giving them to long-term facilities first. he says once the drive-thru locations opened, it sped the process up.

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