Mississippi health officials tried Friday to ease anxieties that vaccination against COVID-19 isn’t happening fast enough and that people who’ve gotten their first dose may miss their second.

“The timeframe for the vaccine was kind of a minimum already for 21 days for Pfizer or 28 days for Moderna. That’s been more clearly defined now,” State Epidemiologist Dr. Paul Byers said. The recommended window for highest efficacy is 21-42 days for the Pfizer vaccine and 28-42 days for the Moderna.

“You have a time frame. Even if you get it past that time, it would still be a valid dose, but that’s the recommended time,” Byers said, adding that the influx of vaccines should serve people needing second doses within that window.

He also asked that people wait a week to make an appointment for their second dose in order to give state health officials enough time to make sure that the correct vaccine for their second dose, be it Pfizer or Moderna, will be available.

The state doubled the number of Mississippians over 75 who were vaccinated from 23,906 to 50,078 since last week despite receiving thousands fewer shots than hoped.

“As a state, we’re doing a fairly good job getting the vaccine that’s available to us into the people that need it. When we’re getting them, we’re giving them,” State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs said Friday.

Geographic and demographic needs play a role in the allocation to certain counties and medical centers, and the requests that hospitals and clinics submit won’t necessarily be how many they get, Dobbs said.

He reminded the public that there are 1.25 million Mississippians who are eligible to receive the vaccine and haven’t, and about 35,000 vaccines are available per week.

“There are going to be some folks who really want it who aren’t going to be able to get it,” he said.

The state had administered 32,174 doses this week, bringing the total number of people vaccinated with their first dose to 138,780. The number of people who have received their second dose is 13,595.

Black Mississippians are still getting vaccinated at a lower rate than whites, with Black residents making up 17,979 of the total number of people vaccinated, while 82,297 white residents have received shots.

Distribution has remained on a steady drip, with 392,225 doses sent throughout the state as of Friday. That figure includes 101,400 from the federal partnership with CVS and Walgreens to distribute the vaccine to nursing home residents and staff and 290,825 to health care providers.

That number sets aside second doses for people who have had their first dose.

Jim Craig, senior deputy and director of Office of Health Protection, announced Thursday he has met with hospital officials in Lawrence County to see if another drive-thru vaccination site may be added there.

Vaccination in Pike County has ramped up as well, with Southwest Mississippi Regional Medical Center offering shots to those 65 or older at the Medical Arts Center. A total of 1,606 doses have been administered since Friday. This almost doubled the number of vaccinations reported for the county last week.

As of Friday, SMRMC had nine patients admitted with the virus, and one of those patients is on a ventilator. Chief Medical Officer Dr. Kevin Richardson said the hospital had six coronavirus deaths in the past nine days.

Amite County has given 313 doses, while Franklin County has given 485, Lawrence County has given 748, Lincoln County has given 1,731, Walthall County has given 570 and Wilkinson County has given 168.

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