JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Gov. Tate Reeves doubled down on comments he made on national news programs recently, saying that there is still some hesitancy for people among the state’s rural and African American communities to take the COVID-19 vaccine.
Tuesday, Reeves gave an update on the state’s efforts to fight COVID-19, saying that progress has been made on all fronts.
“I’m very proud of the progress Mississippi has made. I’m very proud of all the people who worked hard over the last year,” he said. “(But) we need more and more of our fellow Mississippians to get the vaccine.”
Reeves said more than 1.34 million vaccines have been given and more than half a million Mississippians have been fully vaccinated. Another 900,000 Mississippians have received the first dose, he said.
Additionally, the seven-day average of cases has dropped to just above 200, down from the peak of 2,400 in early January.
At the same time, the number of hospitalizations has dropped, as well as the number of people in intensive care and on ventilators has fallen.
“The light is getting brighter and brighter, and the tunnel is getting shorter and shorter,” the governor said. “But I cannot express the importance of rollout. With the summer quickly approaching, it’s important to remain vigilant against the virus and take necessary precautions when necessary.”
He said the best bet in fighting the virus is people getting vaccinated. He said of the roughly 3 million people in the state, between 2.2 and 2.3 million are currently eligible for vaccinations.
Meanwhile, there are tens of thousands of first-dose appointments available across the state, including 7,303 in Hinds County and 6,789 in Madison County, according to covidvaccine.umc.edu.
“We haven’t had this conversation before because in December, January, February, and (early) March, we had more demand than supply,” he said. “If you are above the age of 16 and eligible for a shot, you can get a shot in Mississippi today.”
Reeves said that Tuesday’s event was called, in part, to dispel some of the rumors around the vaccine in an effort to encourage more people to roll up their sleeves.
Reeves asked the medical professionals joining him to discuss how the vaccine was made, whether it was safe and whether it would impact fertility and pregnancies in females.
Dr. Meredith Travelstead, an obstetrics and gynecology specialist, said the vaccine has not led to an increase in stillbirths, miscarriages or other complications when compared to non-vaccinated women in the general population.
Travelstead said that the rumors came about because pregnant or breastfeeding women were not allowed to participate in the initial vaccination tests.
“There were (some that became) pregnant during the process, but they did not have untoward or bad outcomes,” she said, adding that groups like the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists have promoted vaccinated pregnant and breast-feeding women against the virus.
“There was a lot of concern about how the vaccine was made and how it was rolled out,” she said. “We can feel better about pregnant ladies getting it. (But) it’s still a personal decision and we encourage you to have a conversation with your physician about getting it.”
State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs said there are also no studies that show there has been an increase in infertility as a result of becoming inoculated.
Dobbs, who has been fully vaccinated, discussed the process for having the vaccines approved. Vaccines were pushed through the approval process through Operation Warp Speed, an initiative to speed through a serum put in place by former President Donald Trump.
“It was expedited. It was thorough. It was efficient. But it was not anything that cut corners,” he said.
Dr. Clay Hays, a Jackson cardiologist, discussed the technology used in the vaccine. The vaccine uses mRNA, which fools the body to make it think it has the COVID virus. He said the same technology is used in developing some new cholesterol drugs.
“We’re not afraid of the way the vaccines are being produced,” he said. “That’s part of the research process.”