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Mississippi’s weekly COVID-19 vaccinations increase for first time in two months

Doctor believes greater access to care, increase in younger age vaccinations led to uptick
Updated: May. 26, 2021 at 9:09 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - More than two weeks after Mississippi’s COVID-19 vaccinations plunged over 60 percent, those weekly doses have begun to increase for the first time since late March.

Data released Wednesday from the Mississippi State Department of Health shows a 15 percent jump in weekly COVID-19 vaccinations for the week ending May 22.

Dr. Jennifer Bryan, who chairs the Mississippi State Medical Association’s Board of Trustees, attributes that increase to more 12 to 15-year-olds getting the shot and efforts from health leaders to provide greater access to the vaccine.

“The state’s done a really good job with rural access to vaccines. We’ve got home visits going on now. We’ve got corporate partners, we’ve got payer partners, hospital system partners, mainly doctors,” Bryan said. “I mean, just across this spectrum, people are making house calls for giving vaccines and community events. So access is not as much a problem as it once was.”

Bryan believes the uptick in doses last week serves as a positive sign that more people are finally getting onboard.

“Even those who were waiting now understand that we’ve gotten five solid months of watching people get vaccines and go on and live their lives, and that’s encouraging to a lot of people,” Bryan said.

Right now, nearly 30 percent of Mississippians are fully vaccinated.

“We’re seeing the benefits of that,” said Jackson State University Assistant Professor of Public Health Dr. Nelson Atehortua. “However, the issue is, if we want to see long term benefits of that, we need to have way more people involved in the vaccinations.”

Mississippi’s number pales in comparison to the national percentage: 40 percent of the country is fully vaccinated, according to a New York Times analysis.

A CDC breakdown of doses administered per capita puts the Magnolia State lower than any other U.S state.

Atehortua said he believes messaging efforts -- like those MSDH utilized at the height of the pandemic to illustrate the dangers of the virus -- would also help combat the vaccine hesitancy he still sees.

“Provide the information to the people and reassure that the vaccination is okay and the vaccines are safe. I think that will make a significant difference in what we see today,” Atehortua said.

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