djr-2021-01-30-news-vaccines-twp4 (copy)

Kilpatrick readies a COVID-19 vaccine dose for the next patient.

On Tuesday, Mississippi became the second state in the nation to open up vaccination restrictions, allowing for anyone over 18 years of age to get a shot. The news was met with near universal approval and came with encouragement by leaders from Mississippi for citizens to schedule their appointments and get vaccinated against COVID-19.

At a time when misinformation and crazy conspiracy theories are growing around vaccinations, Mississippi leaders have been overwhelmingly united in their message: Go get vaccinated.

It’s a refreshing change of pace from the politics as usual approach we generally see. As political pundits on cable news shows and political leaders in other states muddy the waters of science and the battle against COVID-19, Mississippi leaders from local to state to national levels have given zero credence to the political posturing. Whatever their political affiliation, our leaders are making the point that the need to get vaccinated is above any kind of political gamesmanship.

We’ve seen Tupelo Mayor Jason Shelton, Gov. Tate Reeves and U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker all this week herald vaccinations and encourage people to start the process.

And this should not be surprising. Anytime an “anti-vaxxer” movement pops up, the nation often takes note that Mississippi – one of the most conservative states in the nation – also leads the nation in childhood vaccinations. This is largely due to Mississippi’s mandatory school immunization law, which requires children to be immunized against an array of diseases before being allowed to enroll in a public school.

While a small number of lawmakers have sought to weaken this law by passing exemptions from mandatory immunizations, those efforts have largely failed. Mississippi leaders – whether Republican or Democrat – have historically stood with science when it comes to the need for immunizations and vaccinations.

That same belief is at work with the support of COVID-19 vaccinations.

Nevertheless, Mississippi still has work to do. We trail most other states in the overall percentage of citizens who have been vaccinated. So far, just more than 20% of Mississippians have received at least one vaccination shot, with slightly more than 11% have received full vaccinations. Reeves’ opening up restrictions for the vaccine should help this.

Not only should we be proud of the united front our leaders are showing, we should follow their advice. If you have not been vaccinated, now is the time to do so.

The more people who are vaccinated, the more we can continue to return to a more normal way of life and put this pandemic behind us.

– Daily Journal Editorial Board

– Daily Journal Editorial Board

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