Appointments for second doses of COVID vaccines are now open through dates in mid-February, state health officials said on Thursday.

About 12,000 additional appointments opened up for the second dose. As of Thursday afternoon, no first dose appointments are available at the drive-through sites coordinated by the Mississippi State Department of Health.

“We know it has been a challenge for some folks to get their second dose appointments through the online portal or through the call center,” said State Health Officer Thomas Dobbs. “There’s a very good reason for that: The logistics of making sure that we have the proper second dose at the right location for each person – it’s an absolute logistic monster. We’re working through that, and we are taking steps to make sure that we are going to have more and more availability and visibility on when additional appointments can be made.”

However, the state health officials assure that second doses will be available for all who have had the first dose.

The state’s weekly allocation of vaccine has settled in at about 37,000 doses, with 30,000 of those going to the drive-through locations, leaving just 19 percent to be divided among community partners, such as hospitals.

Those who are eligible – health care workers, people 65 and older and people who have certain medical conditions – number about 1.4 million of the state’s residents. Identification is not required to be presented at the drive-through sites.

“There aren’t that many vaccines coming in on a regular basis, so we’ll need to be patient but also diligent to make sure we protect the vulnerable people of Mississippi as quickly as possible,” said State Health Officer Thomas Dobbs.

The nearest drive-through site to Corinth continues to be close to an hour’s drive away in Tupelo. The state added a 19th site this week in south Mississippi.

“With the limited doses that are available in our state, there’s really just no way to have vaccine available everywhere in the state at the same time,” said Jim Craig, senior deputy and director of health protection with MSDH.

People who work in Mississippi but do not live in Mississippi are eligible to be vaccinated at the drive-through locations.

As for the status of COVID spread, Epidemiologist Paul Byers said it appears there is some flattening in the rise of numbers of deaths and positive cases. On Thursday, the state reported 2,290 new cases and 30 deaths, with none of those deaths being in local counties. About 7 to 8 percent of cases are requiring hospitalization, he said.

Magnolia Regional Health Center reported 13 patients hospitalized for treatment of COVID-19 as of Thursday afternoon.

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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