Some Northeast Mississippi residents have been unable to schedule a COVID-19 vaccination appointment after eligibility opened up on Wednesday for people 75 and older.
The Daily Journal received reports from several readers who attempted to schedule a vaccination appointment and could not do so – either because of the state’s COVID-19 hotline being busy or because appointments were simply unavailable via the Mississippi State Department of Health COVID-19 vaccine patient screening website.
MSDH began vaccinating health care workers and long-term care facility workers at 18 drive-thru locations across the state on Monday, and the department announced on Wednesday that Mississippians 75 and older could begin signing up for appointments.
Appointments for those 75 and older were originally supposed to begin on Jan. 11, but several slots remained open this week and MSDH didn’t want them to go unused, according to State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs.
But as of 5 p.m. Thursday, none of the state’s 18 drive-thru sites had appointment availability. After clicking through a brief screening questionnaire, which determines if the requester is eligible for vaccination, all 18 locations were listed as “unavailable.”
MSDH Communications Director Liz Sharlot told the Daily Journal via email that new testing and vaccination schedules are released weekly, so Mississippians can expect a new schedule to be posted next week.
Sharlot said the department is pleased with the uptake they’ve seen among those 75 and older who were able to make appointments. She encouraged everyone to be patient as “the entire country is allocated doses and the administration is a herculean task.”
In addition to the drive-thru sites, MSDH has allocated doses of COVID-19 vaccine to at least 175 clinics that have signed up, including federally qualified health centers. Gov. Tate Reeves said during a press conference earlier this week that vaccines from private clinics will be available “in the coming days and weeks.”