For weeks drivers have been lining up behind the Uptown McComb mall, and about a dozen other locations in Pike County, to receive a Covid-19 shot. Anyone who has seen the steady stream of cars at the mall would think Southwest Mississippi’s rate of vaccination is at least keeping up with the rest of the state and the country.
Unfortunately, it is not, according to Centers for Disease Control information published last weekend on The Washington Post website.
Of 267 million Americans aged 16 or older, 28% have received at least one dose of the vaccine, while 15% have been fully vaccinated.
The percentages are a little bit lower in Mississippi, where 2.36 million people are old enough for the program. 24% of those eligible have received one dose and 14% are fully vaccinated.
The CDC data through last Friday shows that only 12% of the Pike County population has been fully vaccinated — compared to 14% of the entire state and 15% of the entire country.
Vaccinations are going even more slowly in neighboring Amite and Walthall counties. In Amite County, only 9% of the population is fully vaccinated, while only 10% of Walthall County residents have had all their shots.
If there is a local winner in the vaccination contest, it is Lawrence County, where 19% of the population is fully vaccinated. That is substantially higher than both the state and national percentages.
And given that older people have been more susceptible to a serious reaction to Covid-19, including a higher death rate than other ages, it’s no surprise that vaccination rates for people over 65 are significantly higher.
46% of Americans over 65 are fully vaccinated, as are 43% of Mississippians. Pike County is once again close to those numbers, with 41% of senior citizens fully vaccinated. The same is true for 30% of Walthall County residents over 65 and only 25% in Amite County. Lawrence County, to its great credit, has a whopping 61% senior-citizen vaccination rate.
Left to be answered is why most of the rates in this part of the state are below average. The Post, in addition to presenting the county-by-county information, also analyzed it.
The paper noted that there are noticeably lower vaccination rates in counties with larger Black populations as well as in those where Donald Trump led in last year’s election returns. Its report added that there do not appear to be significant differences between urban and rural areas.
Gov. Tate Reeves has said that Mississippi’s vaccination numbers may be undercounted because federal agencies that are giving shots, such as the Veterans Administration, are not reporting information to the state.
Could be. But the same should be true in other states, too. In any case, we must keep in mind that we are in a marathon, not a sprint. As long as cars are lining up at the mall and elsewhere, and the vaccine percentage steadily increases, we’ll beat this pandemic.