Mississippi ICU capacity decreasing as COVID-19 and flu cases climb

State health officials urge people to get vaccinated
Published: Dec. 8, 2022 at 9:41 PM CST
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Roll up your sleeve and get vaccinated. It sounds familiar, right? State health officials say there’s an urgent reason for you to take their advice.

It’s a cycle we all became familiar with at the height of COVID-19. Doctors are yet again asking that you take the steps to protect yourself, namely vaccination, in hopes that it will keep you out of already full hospitals.

“The message gets your flu vaccine if you haven’t done if you’re eligible for the bivalent booster vaccine,” described State Epidemiologist Dr. Paul Byers. “Please get it now. If you’ve never started the COVID-19 vaccine, now’s a great opportunity.”

The state’s running out of room at the hospitals. The state health officer is particularly concerned about the ICU capacity. When it drops at the larger hospitals, it sparks a domino effect that puts rural hospitals in a bind.

“I just met with a rural hospital association and they’re struggling with being able to transfer to a higher level of care because of this,” said State Health Officer Dr. Dan Edney. “And we’ve been having a lot of transfers having to go out of state because of difficulty with capacity.”

That shortage of beds impacts more than COVID-19 and flu patients because those level one and two hospitals are the ones that handle everything from trauma to heart attacks and strokes. Add onto that, it’s a problem in more than Mississippi.

“As of noon, some of the Tennessee facilities were not accepting the transfers,” said MSDH Senior Deputy Jim Craig.

Neither were some in Alabama.

Flu numbers are still high but showing some small signs of dropping. Meanwhile, COVID-19 cases are on the upswing. Early on, some doctors were advising waiting 90 days from infection to the next COVID-19 shot. We asked what the health department recommends.

“If you’ve been recently infected, don’t rely on that infection that you had to provide you with the level of immunity that you need moving forward,” said Dr. Byers. “But really, you just need to be over the acute infection and no longer symptomatic to go ahead and get that booster.”

Both the COVID-19 boosters and flu shots are available at county health departments. And remember that it takes about two weeks for the flu shot to be fully effective. So, get it now to be protected by Christmas.

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