Mississippi partnerships forming in effort to increase vaccination rates

Published: Aug. 10, 2021 at 8:10 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - COVID-19 is bearing down on the state, putting a strain on hospitals, schools and communities. Doctors say the best defense is vaccination.

After several weeks of less than 30,000 COVID vaccines going in Mississippians’ arms, there’s been a recent uptick. Now, there are more partnerships with various community groups who are trying to keep that trend going.

A PSA with football legend Archie Manning was released Monday.

Delta Health Alliance is working with familiar folks like Manning to see if their voices will strike a chord with some Mississippians.

“If you go to other states, there’s a lot of television advertisement about ‘Get your vaccine’, and really, in Mississippi, there’s really been no mass media push for people to get their vaccines,” described Dr. Karen Comer Matthews, Delta Health Alliance President/CEO. “And we sort of think, you know, if someone that’s known and trusted, that’s from the state of Mississippi says, ‘I did this, you can do this too.’ That really helps people.”

An earlier vaccine survey from the Department of Health released in May indicated celebrity voices were low on the totem pole of influencing those who were hesitant about getting the vaccine.

“Yes, certain celebrities might not be right up there with some some trusted known entity,” said Matthews. “But we think that Archie Manning is a little bit different. And that that he is a trusted known source.”

But they aren’t stopping there. The grant funding that lasts through the end of the year extends to more than PSAs.

“Part of it is the door-to-door; going where people are,” said Matthews. “Asking them, you know, if they haven’t been vaccinated to try to dissuade some of the rumors that they have or that they’ve heard. Try to find out where they are in terms of getting vaccinated. And then help them walk through the process of why they might need to be vaccinated and walk them through that.”

The Department of Health is also working to get those younger folks vaccinated using adopt-a-school programs. Jackson Public Schools and TrustCare partnering up this week.

“We’re one of the lowest vaccinated states right now and whatever small part we can play in that to help, we want to be a part of that,” explained TrustCare President/CEO Warren Herring.

One grandparent says it made it easier having it available right at the school, especially after seeing the virus’ impact on the community.

“We’ve heard of a lot of people that have had it... church members to family members and even some of his friends have had it,” said Hailicia Francis. “Teenagers... they start talking to each other and once they get in that group, and get in their head what they want to do. And right now, the main talk is COVID-19.”

There’s also the more practical piece of keeping them in the classroom.

“If they come in close contact with someone and they’re vaccinated, they will not have to quarantine,” described JPS Executive Director of Climate and Wellness Amanda Thomas.

MSDH guidance recommends fully vaccinated students get tested 3-5 days after exposure.

As for the PSAs, Delta Health Alliance says you can expect to see more with other well-known Mississippians in the coming weeks and months.

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