Thomas Dobbs

State Health Officer Thomas Dobbs speaks about the coronavirus pandemic and vaccinations in Jackson.

While merely getting an appointment has been an obstacle for many people in getting a COVID-19 vaccine, state health officials say they are trying to avoid creating other obstacles to people getting vaccinated.

That is one reason that individuals who cruise through the state’s drive-through vaccination sites are not required to present a form of identification.

“We don’t want to create barriers,” State Health Officer Thomas Dobbs said this week. “There is a step in the process where we have to depend upon people’s ethical behavior. We don’t want someone who is older and doesn’t have a driver’s license to have an impediment to getting a vaccine because they don’t have a driver’s license or an ID.”

Equity is a concern, as well, and the state has been working on outreach to the African-American community.

“We know it’s a challenge,” said Dobbs. “It’s a challenge for Mississippi and it’s a challenge for our nation. We have been working on the trust issue, and I think some headway has been made in that, but the access issue is huge.”

The state is also allowing people who work in Mississippi but are not residents of the state to receive vaccinations as long as they meet the other eligibility requirements. As of Monday, more than 6,700 people with out-of-state addresses had received the shot in Mississippi. It was noted that a number of Mississippi residents are getting their vaccine in neighboring states, as well.

Some other COVID topics the health officials talked about in this week’s briefing:

“There is some new rumor about old folks dying after the vaccine,” said Dobbs.

He said it’s simply not true: “There are no deaths associated with the vaccine.”

Dobbs emphasized again that the vaccine cannot give a person COVID, but it does stimulate the immune system.

“A significant fraction will have some temporary fatigue and muscle aches after the first dose, and it does tend to be a little worse after the second dose,” he said. “But people do recover from it very rapidly.”

It does appear that people who have had COVID-19 are sometimes experiencing symptoms that are “a little bit more intense,” he said.

The CDC is also seeing some rare cases of anaphylaxis.

State Epidemiologist Paul Byers said it’s too soon to know for exactly how long the vaccinations are going to provide protection.

“I suspect it will be close to a year, probably,” he said.

At the time of the briefing, 25,288 individuals in long-term care settings had received first doses, and 9,248 had received the second.

There is “still a long way to go in that program,” said Byers.

The Mississippi State Department of Health is working with the Mississippi Department of Corrections to provide vaccinations to eligible prisoners.

As of Wednesday afternoon, Magnolia Regional Health Center reported 11 patients hospitalized for treatment of COVID-19.

The state on Wednesday reported 784 new positive cases in Mississippi with 25 new deaths. Among those was one that occurred in Tippah County between Jan. 15 and Feb. 3.

Because of the wintry weather, any vaccinations that were scheduled at the Lafayette County drive-through site today (Thursday) are being moved to Saturday, Feb. 20. Those who had an appointment will receive an automated call.

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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