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Among Black residents, Mississippi's COVID vaccination rate is outpacing the U.S. average, data show

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Hand fans on a table that say get vaccinated.
The Jackson-Hinds Comprehensive Health Center partners with Jackson State University to provide free COVID-19 vaccination and resources to the JSU and Mississippi community.
Brittany Brown, Gulf States Newsroom

Nearly half of all Black Mississippians have taken a COVID-19 shot, Mississippi State Health Department data show.



As a result of targeted efforts in diverse communities across the Magnolia State, Mississippi State Department of Health data show nearly half of all Black residents have received at least one COVID-19 shot, and 43% are fully vaccinated. 

Those numbers put Mississippi ahead of the national rate for vaccinations among Black residents — with 37% taking at least one shot, and 33% being fully vaccinated, according to data reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

Two women standing together in front of a COVID-19 vaccination event sign after they took the shot.
Sisters Camille (l) and Atlantis Crosland (r) attended Jackson State University's free COVID-19 vaccination event to take the shot.

Although Black people in Mississippi are vaccinated at a higher rate than Black people in the U.S., state health officials said they hope to see these numbers continue to climb.

“It’s a testament to Mississippi and to Mississippians. It’s a testament to Black and Brown communities and our partnerships. Those numbers are really good statewide, but we still have a long way to go,” Victor Sutton, director of MSDH’s Office of Preventive Health and Health Equity, told MPB News.

Sutton said the department responded to the pandemic early on, creating the Health Equity Disparity Response Unit to ensure information and resources were being distributed to communities of color in Mississippi.

“That unit was actually created to address the impact of COVID-19 on African Americans, Latinx and other minority groups through education, access, through COVID-19 vaccine, testing and resource distribution,” Sutton said. “We work with our partners to kind of set up a vaccination event where we’re available to go in particular communities and host vaccination events.”

Sutton said these vaccination events have been hosted at local community centers, churches, schools, colleges, barber shops and beauty salons.

“If we can work with a partner in that particular community, we will bring it to that community,” Sutton said.

Today, 48% of Black Mississippians have taken at least one COVID-19 shot, falling in line with the statewide average where 45% of all Mississippi residents have been vaccinated, according to data reported by MSDH.

Not only is MSDH partnering with communities across Mississippi, but other Mississippi clinics and healthcare providers are taking this same community-centered approach to distributing coronavirus information and vaccinations. 

During Jackson State University’s 2021 homecoming week, the Jackson-Hinds Comprehensive Health Center collaborated with JSU to host a free vaccination event, a weekly event that’s been taking place on campus since February 2021. It was at this event that 24-year-old Atlantis Crosland finally decided to take the first dose of the COVID-19 shot.

Nurse standing in front of free COVID vaccination event
Michelle Owens with the Jackson-Hinds Comprehensive Health Center was present to answer any questions about COVID vaccines.

Crosland is an accounting student at Holmes Community College and has worked in nursing homes and hospitals during the coronavirus pandemic. Her sister brought her to the vaccination event and finally convinced her to get the shot ahead of an upcoming trip to New York to see their father.

“My sister said you need to go on and [take the shot], just do it for me, pretty much. And I was like, well I’ll go on and do it for y’all, so that was the deciding factor,” Crosland said.

Crosland said she waited to take the shot because she felt like the vaccine was developed too quickly. But Michelle Owens, director of nursing with the Jackson-Hinds Comprehensive Health Center, was present at the JSU vaccination event to address Crosland’s concerns about the vaccine.

“Individuals who may have some hesitancy to get their vaccination, we’re able to answer any questions that they have about the vaccine to kind of quiet their fears,” Owens told MPB News.

Owens said that’s been one of the most important aspects of vaccinating the Black community in Mississippi—word of mouth and building rapport in the community.

That’s what helped Crosland go ahead and take the shot, contributing to the increasing percentage of Black people in Mississippi who have taken the COVID-19 vaccine.

“I’ll encourage anybody to come take it, and don’t be like me and wait so long,” Crosland said.