‘No additional vaccines’ available in state for now

Published 7:23 pm Wednesday, January 13, 2021

The COVID-19 vaccination rollout in Mississippi is struggling with supply and demand.

Mississippi State Department of Health announced on Wednesday the distribution plan that was in place has been “significantly altered” in the last few days, specifically in the last 24 hours.

In Panola County the large parking lot of the Batesville Civic Center is being utilized for both vaccinations and testing on varying days. Officials hope that within a month the Civic Center will be used every day for vaccinations, when those future doses become available.

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Governor Tate Reeves announced on Tuesday the addition of those age 65 and up, along with Mississippians 18 to 64 who have pre-existing conditions, to the list of people eligible to make an appointment to receive the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. The Governor’s announcement caused the drive-thru vaccine sites and the University of Mississippi Medical Center’s (UMMC) vaccine scheduling website to be overwhelmed.

“(The website was not) designed to accommodate the monumental surge we are currently experiencing,” the statement from MSDH read. “At this time, we have no additional vaccine, and every appointment is tied to an actual vaccination.”

The state health department went on to say they hope to receive a large shipment of vaccine in mid-February that will help “put additional shots in people’s arms.”

UMMC issued a statement regarding the long waits and queue line that appeared on the scheduling website on Wednesday morning.

When people were logging onto the the website, they were greeted with a wait queue that had more than 4,700 people waiting to book an appointment at one point.

“The site and server were not prepared for the surge of page visits brought on by the announcement yesterday of vaccine availability for all Mississippians 65 and older and those in younger age ranges with underlying conditions,” UMMC’s statement read. “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.”

As of Wednesday evening, the website did not have a wait queue, but listed only five out of 82 counties with available vaccination appointments: Adams, Harrision, Lee, Leflore and Pike.

“We will open additional vaccination appointments as we receive more vaccine,” MSDH’s statement continued. “Again, the timetable was incredibly altered to make vaccinating every eligible person impossible.”