Mississippi has opened a 19th drive-thru coronavirus vaccination site in Hinds County as the state continues to expand access to the shots. Health officials say this is one step towards shrinking the racial disparities in vaccinations.
Black Mississippians make up nearly 40% of the state's population, but they have only received 15% of the state's coronavirus vaccines. The Department of Health has opened a new vaccination site in Jackson to improve access to the vaccine. State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs says partnerships with local hospitals and clinics are being used to address the racial disparities, but he says the state has a limited number of vaccines to go around. "And last week what we did was proportioned it to the different parts of the state based on population and tried to find strategic partners that could maximize that," says Dr. Dobbs. "Whether that's community health centers or hospital partners that have clinics that have outlying rural areas where they've provided healthcare."
The Department of Health is also partnering with organizations and leaders in the Hispanic community to provide masks, translated resources, and vaccinations.
Mississippians who are getting vaccinated at the drive-thru sites will not have to show identification, proof of medical conditions or residency. But, Dr. Dobbs says only people who live or work in the state should make an appointment. "We need to protect vulnerable people who live in Mississippi and are not having any proof of ID or anything like that with any sort of barriers. So if you meet the qualifications, we want to protect you. We want to protect as many people as quickly as possible. So that's not something that we're going to do."
Health officials say they are planning to open an additional drive-thru site in Warren County and possibly Pearl River County.