Analysis: COVID-19 vaccinations in Mississippi estimated to increase for third straight week

MDOT, state medical association team up for campaign to encourage more shots in arms
Published: Jul. 23, 2021 at 7:43 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Mississippi health care providers issued an average of six thousand shots of the COVID-19 vaccine this week, nearly doubling the number of daily average doses given late last month.

A 3 On Your Side analysis estimates that will lead to a third straight week of increased weekly doses for the Magnolia State at a time when coronavirus cases climb to levels not seen since late January.

For Commissioner Willie Simmons, who oversees the state’s central transportation district, encouraging vaccines seemed like an extension of what he already does.

“When we look at it from a safety point of view, it makes perfect sense,” Simmons said. “It was an easy sell for us to be able to say ‘save your life by going to get vaccinated.’ It is a message that needs to be given over and over again.”

Digital billboards, which can be seen along interstates in Mississippi, reiterate to drivers that seat belts and the vaccine both save lives.

Simmons said they also came up with a public transit program to ensure those who can’t drive to get a COVID-19 vaccine can be taken there with the Mississippi Department of Transportation’s help.

These partnerships show a united front to the public, Jackson State assistant professor of public health Dr. Nelson Atehortua said, demonstrating that everyone’s on the same page to help save lives and stop the spread of COVID-19.

“Microorganisms in general, they don’t care about political affiliation. They don’t care about nationalities, they don’t care about passports, they don’t care about a lot of things,” Atehortua said. “If they find you vulnerable, they will hit you hard. And if they can, they will kill you.”

On Friday, Gov. Tate Reeves shared information on social media from State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs, which showed the Delta variant is wildly more contagious than previously thought.

Reeves told his Twitter followers that the data was further evidence that risks associated with not getting vaccinated are greater than risks associated with getting the vaccine.

Atehortua said if the governor keeps that kind of decisive messaging for the next few months, he’s confident more Mississippians will get the shot.

But conflicting statements from Reeves have hurt that effort, he added.

“You cannot send two messages, two contradictory messages at the same time and hope for something good happened to you in the next election cycle,” Atehortua said, referring to tweets Reeves sent days earlier which criticized the White House for asking Facebook to crack down on misinformation regarding COVID-19.

Simmons used a more humorous approach to one of his friends recently.

“I asked them, of course, in a funny kind of way: ‘When you was introduced to the Viagra, did anyone tell you that it was safe, and that they had all those tests? Or did you say, where’s the Viagra, when they told you about it?’ Same should apply. If this is a safe product that we can utilize to protect us and keep our family and friends safe, we should ask the question, ‘where and how do I get it?’”

Simmons, who’s fully vaccinated himself, said MDOT also recently helped transport 20 high school kids from Cleveland Central High School in the Delta to get the shot, too.

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