JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - The COVID-19 vaccine distribution is officially underway in Mississippi. State health leaders were the first to receive the vaccinations this afternoon.
State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs was the first person in the state of Mississippi to receive the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. “Felt like a butterfly,” said Dobbs. “A little bit of a sting... not bad.”
The first five to receive the vaccine in the state were Dobbs, State Epidemiologist Dr. Paul Byers, MSDH Health Protection Director and Senior Deputy Jim Craig, Community Health Center Association of Mississippi RN Sonja Fugua and Dr. Leandro Mena, University of Mississippi Medical Center Professor of Population Science and Professor of Medicine.
“To be honest, we know, and Dr. Byers and I and Jim expect, that maybe we’ll have some swelling after the shot and maybe even have some achiness tomorrow,” noted Dobbs. “But that’s so much worth it. We know how deadly, devastating and deadly coronavirus has been for the state of Mississippi.”
Five of the state’s hospitals, including UMMC, have cold storage options that allowed for direct shipments of the vaccine.
“We do have several facilities within the state that, if not receiving the vaccine today, will be receiving it tomorrow or Wednesday,” said Dr. Paul Byers.
UMMC will start administering the vaccines to employees beginning Wednesday but it will not be required. Dr. Dobbs says they’ve mostly left decisions of which specific workers would get the vaccines up to the individual hospitals but suggest priority be given to those at highest risk.
“Those folks need to get protected,” said Dobbs. “We can’t afford to have three ICU nurses out of commission for two weeks. Not only for their health but also for the health and the healthcare requirements that Mississippians are going to have.”
Long term care facilities will also be getting some of the first 25,000 doses arriving in the state.
“We hope that within 5-6 weeks we have a first dose within all residents and staff in LTC and build from there,” Byers explained.
The general population that doesn’t have vulnerabilities to the virus may not have access till March or April but Dobbs makes this note:
“If you think about that, vulnerable people and essential workers make up probably the majority of the folks in Mississippi,” said Dobbs. “So, a large part of Mississippi is going to be eligible to be immunized well before this time frame.”
All of Monday’s details surround that first allotment from Pfizer, but the state is expecting to receive the Moderna vaccines as early as next week. Byers says, initially, we could receive as much as 50,000 doses of that.
Also, keep in mind both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccine require two doses each.