Icy roads in Mississippi this week slowed not only travel but also the state’s COVID-19 vaccination efforts.
The State Health Department’s vaccine report showed 3,761 total doses had been administered this week as of Wednesday compared to 106,691 last week.
State-run vaccine drive-thrus halted Monday through Wednesday except in coastal counties. The Health Department rescheduled all disrupted appointments for the same scheduled times but on later dates.
Pike County’s Monday appointments were rescheduled to Thursday, but the vaccine drive-thru in Uptown McComb mall’s back parking lot had still not re-opened Thursday due to issues with the city’s water system, according to a worker who was at the site to check the tents there for weather damage.
The tents were still standing, only a small tear or two worse for the wear, and thawing ice fragments lay fallen around the entrances.
Health Department spokesperson Liz Sharlot did not know to when the Monday appointments that had been rescheduled to Thursday would be again rescheduled, but the people with those with previously scheduled appointments were notified by phone, email or text, she said.
Tuesday’s canceled vaccine appointments in Pike County were rescheduled for Sunday, Feb. 21. Friday’s drive-thru hours had not yet been canceled by the Health Department as of Thursday afternoon.
There were no new first dose vaccine appointments available in Pike County, according to the state online registration Thursday afternoon. The Health Department isn’t expecting rescheduled shots to create any conflicts.
“All canceled vaccine appointments are automatically rescheduled,” Sharlot said. “There should not be any problems.”
State health officials encourage frequent checking for vaccine appointments that may open up. Drive-thru vaccinations can be scheduled at covidvaccine.umc.edu or by calling 1-877-978-6453.
The weather hindered vaccine shipments getting where they needed to go as well, but less demand and fewer chances to get vaccinated helped balance shortages.
“Road deliveries have been a challenge,” Sharlot said. “However, we are not vaccinating to the same extent we normally would.”
Southwest Mississippi Regional Medical Center is waiting on 400 new first-dose vaccines that were delayed by the weather.
“The State Health Department did allot us some more. Every bit that we get in, we are going to give to the community,” SMRMC interim Pharmacy Director Jennie Luter said.
The shipment was approved this past weekend and would normally have arrived this week, but it is unclear when the shots will arrive.
“We’ll notify the public as soon as we know we’re expecting them and can start making appointments,” Luter said.
First-dose appointments at SMRMC’s Medical Arts Building can be made by calling 601-250-4210.
SMRMC’s Wednesday and Thursday second dose appointments were rescheduled to today.
As of Wednesday, 323,008 people had gotten their first dose in Mississippi, and 126,807 had gotten their second.
There were 4,840 COVID vaccines that had been given in Pike County, 1,067 in Amite County, 1,123 in Franklin County, 2,614 in Lawrence County, 5,347 in Lincoln County, 1,399 in Walthall County and 1,048 in Wilkinson County.
Icy weather confining people to their homes may cause a drop in numbers of new COVID-19 cases, and so will access to testing.
“It would make sense that numbers would be down,” Sharlot said. “We are not testing to the same extent as normal due to weather.”
Daily statewide numbers of new cases of COVID-19 have so far stayed below 1,000 since Monday. There were 544 new cases reported Monday, 734 Tuesday and 684 Wednesday. Thursday’s numbers had not been posted by the state as of Thursday afternoon.
Over those three days, Pike County added 12 new cases, Amite, Franklin and Lawrence counties added five each, Lincoln County added 27, and Walthall and Wilkinson counties added one each.
Pike, Lawrence and Walthall counties have each reported one new COVID-19-related death this week.