Mississippi’s COVID-19 vaccination rate is lowest in country

MISSISSIPPI — The push to get more people vaccinated in Mississippi continues.

Right now, the state is ranked last in the nation for its vaccination rate, and there are concerns about the state’s high supply and low demand.

It was reported that the Department of Health was going to send over 870,000 doses back to the federal government or other states, but the MSDH emphasizes it never received that amount of doses.

In fact, it hasn’t requested a shipment of the vaccine in two weeks.

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“We are seeing some complacency, some folks think it’s over, its good the cases are low, but we have some challenges, and we will continue to see deaths,” said State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs.

Dr. Dobbs said more people need to get vaccinated in the state.

He explains the MSDH is doing its part to set up pop-up locations and provide vaccinations for homebound people.

Despite these efforts, only 29 percent of Mississippians are fully vaccinated, which is the lowest vaccination rate in the country.

Dr. Dobbs emphasizes that the MSDH can request hundreds of thousands of doses, but right now, there isn’t a demand.

“We are doing our best to try to continue to increase vaccination rates. It’s bigger than just the health department,” said Dr. Dobbs.

Dr. Mike Threlkeld, an infectious disease specialist at Baptist Hospital, said Mississippians should be more careful because there are still variant strains out there.

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Health Department data shows there are 629 UK variant strains in Mississippi. Those strains are considered more contagious.

“We’d certainly like to see our vaccine rate, not just in Mississippi but in the whole country increasing,” Threlkeld said. “The variants developed because we have people that are not infected, get infected and develop a variant, so best way to protect is to get everyone vaccinated so there aren’t any cases anymore.”

Dr. Threlkeld believes there needs to be more publicity about the benefits of the vaccines.

Meanwhile, Dr. Dobbs said the state is doing everything it can to protect its people.

“There is vaccine out there, and we are going to continue to bring it to every corner of the state,” said Dr. Dobbs.

Dr. Dobbs said despite a few setbacks, the state has vaccinated 75 percent of its older population.

Right now, its focus is on the younger age group.