Vaccinations ramp up as state mortality rates rise

Published 4:45 pm Tuesday, August 17, 2021

A pop-up vaccination clinic opened on the Oxford Square Tuesday afternoon in an attempt to help stem the tide against the surging delta variant of COVID-19.

 “We’ve been busy,” said Kimberly Webb, D.O., of Webb Family Medical Center, which is operating the clinic. “Right at 12, we had several patients.”

The pop-up site was open from noon to 5 p.m. and was offering Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson shots to all eligible individuals. Some of the walk-in patients waiting to be vaccinated at the pop-up site stated they were only taking the vaccine now because it was mandatory for their jobs or for school. 

The pop-up clinic is one more vaccination effort in an all-out statewide fight against the surging COVID-19 rates.

On Tuesday, the Mississippi State Department of Health reported 3,323 more cases of COVID-19 in Mississippi, 67 deaths, and 172 ongoing outbreaks in long-term care facilities. Mississippi hospitals have 1,539 positive COVID-19 patients, 49 patients with suspected COVID-19, 431 patients in an ICU and 291 on ventilators.

In Lafayette County, there were 21 new cases of COVID-19. No deaths or long-term care facility cases. Of reported COVID-19 cases, the county has a total of 7,098 cases, 128 deaths, 187 LTC facility outbreaks and 55 LTC facility deaths.

Also on Tuesday, state health officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs stated in a tweet that Mississippi is third in per capita mortality from the virus and reports that the state is seeing a rapid increase in cases among children.

In an infographic posted by Dobbs, stats show that  Mississippi’s COVID-19 death rate trails behind New Jersey and Maryland respectively. In another infographic tweeted by Dobbs, the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases with children from ages five to 17 is positively trending above 18%, while other groups downtrend or stagnate.

According to the MSDH State Health Officer Thomas Dobbs, 98% of positive COVID cases, 89% of COVID hospitalizations and 86% of COVID deaths are in unvaccinated individuals.

Tannehill encouraged the public to keep the safety of themselves and others in mind. She tweeted, “If we don’t come together, we are going to fall apart. #StrongerTogether #GetVaccinated.”

After struggling for months to persuade Americans to get the COVID-19 vaccine, U.S. health officials could soon face a fresh challenge: talking vaccinated people into getting booster shots to gain longer-lasting protection as the delta variant sends infections soaring again.

As early as Wednesday, U.S. health authorities are expected to recommend an extra dose of the vaccine for all Americans eight months after they get their second shot, according to two people who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations.

That means the biggest vaccination drive in U.S. history is about to get even more extensive.

The move is being driven by both the highly contagious variant and preliminary evidence that the vaccine’s protective effect starts dropping within months.

Last week, U.S. health officials recommended boosters for some people with weakened immune systems, such as cancer patients and organ transplant recipients. If the shots are expanded as expected to other Americans, among the first to receive them could be health care workers, nursing home residents and other older people.

Some experts have expressed concern that a new campaign calling for boosters could muddle the public health message and undercut the continuing drive to win over the tens of millions of Americans who are hesitant to get their first COVID-19 shots.

Calling for third doses could discourage people who had been skeptical of the shot’s effectiveness in the first place, Lawrence Gostin, a public health specialist at Georgetown University, warned on Tuesday.

“We have to really make sure that while we’re spending a lot of time and effort on third doses that we don’t undermine our campaign for first vaccinations,” he said. “That’s truly the existential crisis in the United States.”

The MSDH advises Mississippi physicians and clinicians to consider a third vaccine, or booster, shot for high-risk patients with compromised immune systems.

“If you’re due for your next dose of the vaccine, we will announce other dates and times,” said Webb. “You can always come to the clinic in Oxford and get your second shot or your booster shot.”

You do not have to be a Mississippi resident to receive the vaccine.

The clinic plans to hold more pop-up vaccination sites in the future.

“We will be announcing through Facebook or on Instagram other pop-ups throughout the fall,” said Webb. “We might set up other pop-ups before Friday home football games.”

The center plans to set up other pop-ups before Friday home football games.

For more information about Webb Family Medical Clinic’s COVID-19 vaccinations and their pop-up sites, visit www.webbfamilymedical.com/.