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OUR VIEW: Reeves using deceptive strategy for public vaccine rollout

When news of the COVID-19 vaccine’s upcoming availability to Mississippians over age 65 broke on Monday, many people rejoiced, seeing a light at the end of a very long tunnel.

However, it would be wise to view Gov. Tate Reeves’ claims with an eye of scrutiny. Reeves stated that beginning next week, the vaccine would be available to residents 75 and older, and then the following week, it would be available to those 65 and older.

This all sounds fine and good, but there are a few things that should perk the ears of vaccine hopefuls. Reeves did not offer much explanation for how those eligible for the vaccine will receive it, other than saying “it’s available.” After speaking with the local Emergency Management Coordinator, it became clear that the availability of the vaccine does not equal immediate receipt.

According to our local officials, appointment slots for eligible health care workers and first responders are already filled through February. The vaccine won’t be administered to those 65 and older until much later this year.

Reeves’ statements create a sense of false hope in a time when there is enough skepticism surrounding the coronavirus pandemic and trust in elected officials.

Coupled with the governor’s recent maskless holiday parties that flaunted his own mandates for the common folk, Monday’s announcement is yet another in a long string of failures to lead by example.

Reeves could have said, “Sign-up for the vaccine will be available beginning next week.” Instead, in his prepared statement, he chose to cast doubt on the CDC’s evaluation process in an attempt to make himself look good.

“We need to move fast and we need to get it out there. We don’t need to analyze and prioritize for months and months and months on end,” Reeves said.

That is true – the vaccine needs to be distributed safely and quickly. However, masquerading public vaccine sign-ups as immediate availability of the vaccine will lead to confusion and frustration.

Distribution of the vaccine is a moving target; there is little margin for error when the lives of vulnerable individuals are at stake.