Memorial Hospital vaccinates Gulf Coast students before school starts

Published: Jul. 23, 2021 at 5:43 PM CDT
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LONG BEACH, Miss. (WLOX) - Class doesn’t start at the Long Beach School District until August 5, but the stands at Long Beach Middle School were packed Friday morning.

“We’ve got so many people coming out today,” Memorial Hospital’s Social Media Coordinator Sylvia Hanes said. “We are so excited.”

Hanes is working to spread correct information about the COVID-19 pandemic and advertise mobile vaccination sites like the one at the middle school.

While anyone could make an appointment or walk-in to get the shot, organizers wanted the site to draw in a younger demographic

“We’re trying to get to places where they are going to be or where they are at anyways,” Hanes said.

The site is just one of several Memorial plans to host at Gulf Coast schools to get families ready for another year of learning while battling the pandemic.

“The vaccine hands down is the only real protection we have right now,” Advanced Practice Manager Kristian Spear.

According to the latest report from MSDH, only about 7% of Mississippi’s ages 12-15 are vaccinated. Additionally, 14% of teens age 16-17 are fully vaccinated.

Health officials want to see more people get the shot in order to protect students, teachers and their families from the virus.

“When you start to bring all these people closer together, that’s when it spreads like wildfire,” Hanes said.

Getting more younger people vaccinated before they head back to school is important for healthcare providers as they deal with more COVID-19 cases in hospitals.

“We have 29 patients in the hospital now and two of those are pediatric patients,” said Spear. “We have nine in the ICU currently so our numbers are going up.”

As summer vacation comes to an end, health officials want COVID-19 shots to be on back to school shopping lists.

“Whatever your age range is, even if you’re not in school, you still need to get vaccinated,” Hanes said.

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