JACKSON, Miss. (WLOX) - One day after the governor announced that more Mississippians would be allowed to sign up for COVID-19 vaccinations, the Mississippi State Health Department made its own announcement: Vaccinating everyone eligible is impossible right now.
“The Mississippi State Department of Health had a vaccine distribution plan in place that has been significantly altered in the last few days – especially in the last 24 hours. Neither the county health department drive-through sites, nor the UMMC vaccine scheduling website was designed to accommodate the monumental surge we are currently experiencing. At this time, we have no additional vaccine, and every appointment is tied to an actual vaccination,” MSDH said in a statement Wednesday.
Health officials said the state hopes to receive a large shipment of vaccine in mid-February that should help put additional shots in people’s arms.
“We understand the frustration brought on by this sudden change of plans. We will certainly keep all Mississippians updated regarding additional vaccine. Mississippians should understand that we can only vaccinate residents based on vaccine availability. We will open additional vaccination appointments as we receive more vaccine. Again, the timetable was incredibly altered to make vaccinating everyone eligible impossible.”
Tuesday, Governor Tate Reeves announced that Mississippians age 65 and older as well as those 18+ who have underlying medical conditions would now be allowed to get COVID-19 vaccinations in the state. Almost immediately, users began reporting problems scheduling appointments through the MSDH’s Vaccine Scheduler website. The toll-free hotline quit working, and state leaders scrambled to get a new number up and running.
Mississippi Emergency Management Agency Director Greg Michel posted a video Wednesday explaining the different issues they’ve been having with the website and the hotline, which has been a source of frustration for hundreds of Mississippians trying to schedule vaccinations following the governor’s announcement.
It’s unclear when exactly additional vaccines will be available in the state. In the meantime, the department of health reiterated some important safety advice, saying, “In the meantime, all Mississippians – whether vaccinated or not – should continue to follow protective guidelines. Especially avoid any social gatherings. And always wear a mask.”