Low vaccination rate in MS concerns doctor as new COVID strain spreads

MISSISSIPPI — The new COVID-19 Omicron variant discovered in South Africa is causing concern around the world because of signs of severity and how contagious it could be.

FOX13 spoke with a North Mississippi doctor who said the virus is of special concern in the Magnolia State because of a low vaccination rate. Doctors told us there are so many unknown variables with the new variant that it’s time to get back to basics.

Doctor Odilichi Ezenwanne with the Aaron E. Henry Clinic said there is reason for concern.

”We have to be proactive now since it has been termed a variant of concern. Then we should go back to the basics: really hand hygiene, social distancing and encourage people to get vaccinated,” Ezanwanne said.

Some people in North Mississippi said they are not as concerned about this variant.

”I don’t know. Everything that you read, when you look at what you read the comments from South Africa, the symptoms are mild. But, that being said, you never know. I wouldn’t say that I am not concerned, but I am not as concerned as I was about Covid,” Clifton Rutledge said.

Dr. Ezenwanne said there is reason for Mississippians to worry because of the state’s low vaccination rate. So far, only about 47-percent of people in the state have been fully vaccinated. Couple that with a high death rate from COVID and that so many people in the state have underlying conditions.

”The concern is that Mississippi just kind of amplifies concerns everywhere else. You have people who haven’t been vaccinated,” Ezanwanne said.

”I don’t know about all this new stuff. I only know about the old stuff. We might need to stay at home to get rid of this mess,” Jimmy Hovis of Eudora said.

State data shows about 54 percent of Mississippians have gotten one dose. That’s compared to about 70 percent of all Americans, according to the CDC.