An estimated 200,000 people in Mississippi are now eligible for a Covid-19 booster shot, according to the state epidemiologist.

As of Thursday the county health departments are among the locations where booster shots are available. Many pharmacies and clinics are also now offering the booster shot.

The Mississippi State Department of Health said residents will need to make an appointment with the county health department through the scheduling website covidvaccine.umc.edu or by calling the Covid-19 hotline at (877) 978-6453.

Boosters are currently only available for people who had the Pfizer vaccine at least six months ago.

Eligibility includes those who are:

n 65 and older;

n Residents of a long-term care facility;

n 18 and older who have certain underlying medical conditions; and

n 18 and older who work in certain occupations that increase the risk of exposure – grocery store workers, health care workers, firefighters, police, congregate care staff, education staff, food and agriculture workers, manufacturing workers, corrections workers, postal service workers and public transit workers.

“I know there’s a lot of confusion about where we are with the vaccine,” State Epidemiologist Paul Byers said in a Friday talk with the Mississippi State Medical Association.

Third shots as part of the primary series for Pfizer and Moderna are available for people who have weakened immune systems.

“That recommendation is at 28 days after you’ve completed that primary two-dose series,” said Byers. “We’ve been encouraged by the utilization of that. We’ve had over 40,000 Mississippians that have gotten vaccinated with a third dose because they’ve been immunocompromised.”

Seventy-five to 80 percent of breakthrough infections leading to death occur in people over the age of 65.

“We still need to make those folks over the age of 65 a priority,” said Byers. “We need to continue to make our long-term care residents a priority. We continue to have a lot of outbreaks in long-term care settings. Thankfully, most of the residents have been highly vaccinated, and the impact has been significantly less with the Delta wave than we’ve seen in previous waves in long-term care settings.”

The health departments also continue to administer first and second shots of Covid-19 vaccine, and the flu shot is also now available. People who have received prior Covid-19 shots should being their vaccine card.

MSDH is no longer offering drive-through locations.

Staff Writer

Jebb Johnston is a 1991 Alcorn Central High School graduate and a 1995 Ole Miss journalism graduate. His primary beats are city and county government.

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