JACKSON, Miss. (WLOX) - Starting next week, 18 drive-through COVID-19 vaccination sites will be up and running across Mississippi for doctors, nurses, dentists, and other healthcare workers who could come in contact with the virus.
The announcement from officials at the Mississippi State Health Department comes on the same day Mississippi set a new one-day record for new COVID-19 cases: 3,023.
Jackson and Harrison counties are the only South Mississippi counties on the initial list of drive-thru sites. Health officials divided the state into nine zones, and each zone will have two locations for drive through vaccinations.
The Jackson County Health Department site will open Monday, January 4, 2021, and the Harrison County Health Department site will open Tuesday, January 5, 2021.
Qualified healthcare workers must register in advance, and can begin making appointments now online at https://covidvaccine.umc.edu/
“We’re targeting specifically any and all healthcare personnel … to include doctors, nurses, dentists and any administrative and support staff that are working in hospital settings (and) clinical settings,” State Epidemiologist Dr. Paul Byers said. “These are the folks who are taking care of our sickest folks and patients, and we want to continue their capacity to stay on the job.
“By vaccinating them and protecting them, we prevent transmission from those individuals.”
The drive-through centers will be set up at existing testing sites, officials say.
“We’re leveraging our existing testing infrastructure that we’ve provided in any county in Mississippi, where people can come and receive free testing if they’re symptomatic or have come into contact with a confirmed case,” said Dr. Jim Craig, director of health protection with the Mississippi State Department of Health.
“The drive-through model has worked really well. We are testing about 2,000 folks almost every day.”
Who Is Eligible for Vaccination?
- Any healthcare worker, paid or unpaid, in any setting where they may be exposed directly or indirectly to COVID-19 patients or COVID-19 infectious materials.
- Healthcare workers include nurses, physicians, emergency medical services, technicians, pharmacists, dietary and food staff, environmental services staff and others.
- Healthcare settings include acute care facilities, long-term acute care facilities, inpatient rehabilitation facilities, nursing homes, assisted living facilities, home health care, mobile clinics, outpatient facilities such as physicians’ offices and others.
Byers said a partnership has also been formed with CVS and Walgreen’s pharmacies to allocate doses to nursing homes and other long-term care facilities. He said the pharmacies are already reaching out to nursing home staffers to begin the vaccinations.
“All the nursing homes, all 204 in the state, are part of that program, and all will be vaccinated as part of that program,” Byers said.
Byers also urged residents to continue to wear masks, practice social distancing and avoid gatherings, especially as New Year’s Eve approaches.
“We are not out of the woods … We are not seeing any signs that things are slowing down. We’re still in the middle of the holidays, so please, for New Year’s, keep it small, keep it nuclear,” he said. “Avoid those social gatherings. Make sure you wear a mask when you are out doing your essential activities. We know that every case can translate into a hospitalization (and potentially) death.”