“Monumental surge:” Mississippi vaccine appointments booked full as Coast hospitals run out of doses

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There are 52,000 Mississippi residents registered to receive their first dose of the vaccine over the next two weeks and all of them are guaranteed to receive their second dose.
Tim Reckmann / NJ Dept. of Military and VA / Mark C. Olsen / CC BY 2.0

(WXXV) — The Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH) had a vaccine distribution plan in place that has been significantly altered in the last few days – especially in the last 24 hours.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported Wednesday, Jan. 13 that a total of 218,825 doses of the vaccine had been distributed to Mississippi, but only 61,289 people had received their first dose.

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The Mississippi State Department of Health says every appointment made so far is tied to an actual vaccination.

There are 52,000 Mississippi residents registered to receive their first dose of the vaccine over the next two weeks and all of them are guaranteed to receive their second dose.

On Wednesday, Gov. Tate Reeves announced that people 65 and older or those ages 16 to 64 with underlying medical conditions could register for a shot — expanding vaccination availability to more than one million Mississippians.

Dr. Mark Horne, President of the Mississippi State Medical Association, told Mississippi Public Broadcasting on Wednesday the State Department of Health had only one hour notice prior to the Governor’s announcement.

Neither the county health department drive-through sites, nor the University of Mississippi Medical Center’s vaccine scheduling website was designed to accommodate the “monumental surge” of people attempting to make an appointment, MSDH says.

The University of Mississippi Medical Center, which runs the vaccination scheduling website, made the following statement Wednesday: “Since we learned about the change in guidance when it was announced yesterday, we have been working diligently with our colleagues at the Mississippi State Department of Health to accommodate the changes as well as the changes needed to comply with federal data reporting requirements. We apologize for any inconvenience experienced while the scheduling tool was being updated to accommodate the greater number of people now eligible to make an appointment. Current long wait times when visiting the site are associated with the high volume of people trying to make an appointment.”

In South Mississippi, hospitals along the Coast have run out of doses.

Last week, Memorial Hospital in Gulfport administered more than 2,500 COVID-19 vaccinations, but they say they have not received any more doses from the State Department of Health.

In Jackson County, Singing River Health System says their supply of vaccines has run out as all remaining doses have been allocated to those with existing appointments. Those who received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at a Singing River Health System drive-thru event do not need to schedule an appointment to receive the second dose. On the date of your second dose (which is listed on the vaccination card received at the first event), you are asked to arrive at the same location and time as your first dose appointment.

Ochsner Medical Center-Hancock in Bay St. Louis has also announced they are out of doses.

The Mississippi State Department of Health hopes to receive a large shipment of vaccines in mid-February that should help put additional shots in people’s arms.

The MSDH says, “Mississippians should understand that we can only vaccinate residents based on vaccine availability. We will open additional vaccination appointments as we receive more vaccine.”

In the meantime, state health officials ask that all Mississippians – whether vaccinated or not – continue to follow protective guidelines including avoid any social gatherings and wearing a mask.

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