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Mississippi turns away vaccine doses as vaccination rates decline
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coronavirus
Hundreds of thousands of coronavirus vaccine doses have been made available to Mississippi but were never ordered. Health officials say those vaccines were then made available to other states to order.
UMMC

More than 800 thousand doses of coronavirus vaccines that have been made available to Mississippi were never ordered. But health officials say the state already has enough to meet the low demand.

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Coronavirus vaccination rates in Mississippi are the lowest in the nation. Health officials say there is not enough demand for the shots to justify ordering all doses being made available to the state by the federal government. State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs says these vaccines were never in Mississippi, and instead they were redirected to other states who had a higher need.

Dr. Dobbs says “Those are just underutilized doses, and of course early on we recognized that other states were in greater need. And so I was happy to work with Rhode Island and Maine to make sure that they had those vaccines available. If Mississippi people don’t understand how important it is to keep them alive, we want to protect other Americans. And so I was glad we were able to sorta get ahead of the federal program to help our fellow Americans in the North East.”

The Department of Health is working to grow demand for the vaccines, but they say it has been difficult to get some partners on board. When vaccination rates were lower among Black Mississippians, Dr. Dobbs says partnerships with local churches and community leaders helped grow trust. But he says those same conversations are not working as well among White communities. 

“We tried to outreach and a town hall for leaders of predominantly white churches, and it was a tepid response. We need our leaders in every community to step forward and make the bold stance of letting their congregants, their constituents know how important it is. We are going all out to make sure that vaccines are available to everybody with the minimum barriers possible.”

Community leaders, businesses and churches can call the Department of Health to host a vaccination event and health officials say they will work to make sure it happens.