Waiting to get shot

A Mississippi National Guard medic walks between vehicles at a drive-thru vaccination clinic at the Pike County Health Department on Friday.

With supplies of the COVID-19 vaccine running short, Southwest Mississippi Regional Medical Center announced Friday that it would postpone all vaccination appointments that have been made after January, as state officials said they are awaiting on a new shipment next week.

The Department of Health expected more allotments of the vaccine to begin trickling into the state by Jan. 25, and a much larger shipment is supposed to arrive by mid-February.

State health officials said anyone who has received or is in line for their first dose will be able to get their second dose.

“The anticipated arrival of significantly more vaccine in February is in addition to the steady, modest supply that we are currently receiving weekly,” health officials said in a press release.

The department plans to continue to set up additional appointments at drive-thru clinics across the state once the supply becomes steady.

Southwest Mississippi Regional Medical Center announced Friday that it has scheduled vaccinations for all of its share of the vaccine and would have to postpone any vaccinations scheduled from Feb. 1  and beyond because unexpected changes in distribution from the state.

The developments come as state officials, including Gov. Tate Reeves, stressed the need Tuesday to “get shots in arms” and opened vaccinations to people 65 or older or with pre-existing health conditions. The next day, health officials announced that all of its supply of the vaccine had been accounted for and no new appointments could be made until more arrived.

“We anticipate that we will have an additional drive through appointments, in more locations, the week of Jan. 25 based on vaccine forecasted to be available at the end of next week,” state health officials said in a statement Friday.

State health officials said in a Facebook post that “Mississippi has received additional vaccine sufficient to continue weekly appointments.”

However, a patient screening form on the department of health’s website said no appointments for the first dose of the vaccine were available.

State health officials weren’t available for comment Friday afternoon.

Despite long waits, frequent crashes and general server issues on the part of the State Department of Health’s website, the state administered 27,672 doses this week, bringing the total number of doses administered to 85,829.

Of that number, 77,223 people have had their first dose and 8,606 have had their second.

Distribution also ramped up, with 264,650 doses distributed throughout the state. That includes 89,700 through a federal partnership with CVS and Walgreens to distribute the vaccine to nursing home residents and staff and 174,950 to health care providers, including private clinics, hospitals and the state’s drive-thru vaccination clinics.

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

White residents are getting the vaccine in much higher numbers than Black residents, with 60,172 (63%) of injections going to whites  and just 14,158 (15%) going to Black residents, who account for 38% of the state’s population. 21% of recipients are listed as an “other” race.

People over 75 or older have over taken 50- to 64-year olds as the largest group of people vaccinated by age. The state has given 23,906 people over the age of 75 the vaccine as of Friday. The second-largest group — age 50- to 64-year olds — have received 20,983. The third largest age group is 25- to 39-year olds with 16,710 doses administered. The state has given 12,422 doses to those 40- to 49-years old, and 2,272 to those between 16 and 24.

Pike County has administered 879 shots total as of Friday, up from last weeks 254, while Amite County has given 148, up from 53, Franklin County has 184, up from 66, Lawrence County gave 342 shots, up from 68, Lincoln County administered 953, up from 288, Walthall County has vaccinated 196 people, up from 48 and Wilkinson County 99, up from 56.

President-elect Joe Biden released a plan Friday to get 100 million Americans vaccinated in his first 100 days in office by better defining who can get vaccinated, creating 100 federal vaccination sites, working with pharmacies to ramp up vaccinations and using the federal Defense Production Act to boost supplies needed to create the vaccine.

Biden noted the lack of vaccinations going to minorities and said he wanted to work to make sure the country creates more places for vaccinations “in communities hardest hit by the pandemic.”

The president-elect, who recently took his second dose of the vaccine, also said that there is a disinformation campaign against it, and wants to put in place measures to prove the vaccine is safe and effective in slowing the spread of the virus.

“It is time to grow up,” he said to those refusing to wear a mask. “Wear a mask. If not for yourself, but for your family.”

The state reported 2,342 cases Friday for 247,161 since the beginning of the pandemic, and added 55 deaths for a total of 5,416.

Pike County went up 33 cases Friday to 2,581, Amite County rose by seven to 964, Franklin County reported seven cases for 653, Lawrence County added 14 cases for 1,012, Lincoln County rose by 32 to 2,933, Walthall County went up by six to 1,111 and Wilkinson County added seven cases to 581.

Wilkinson County added one death for a total of 25 since the beginning of the pandemic and Franklin County reported two deaths for a total of 15.

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