Over the last month, we have followed news of various COVID-19 vaccines in development and how soon they could become available upon emergency FDA approval.

In Mississippi, officials anticipate we could receive the vaccine under development by Pfizer as soon as mid-December, and the Mississippi State Department of Health is beginning to lay out plans for how the vaccine will be distributed.

As reported today by the Daily Journal’s Caleb Bedillion, both the vaccine by Pfizer and Moderna were more than 90% effective in the first round of early trials, and both companies are preparing to immediately distribute once federal approval is in hand.

MSDH has drafted a plan for how the vaccine will be distributed, which calls for health care workers, pharmacists, first responders and the National Guard to be the first recipients, with longterm care residents and staff and other health care facilities a secondary part of the first phase.

After taking care of educators and a few other professionals, people with pre-existing conditions and adults over the age of 65 would be next, and the general public would be part of the final phase.

Chief Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs held several press conferences last week to take questions on the vaccines, the shrinking number of ICU beds available in the state, and to further educate the public on what we need to be doing right now to combat the virus. We appreciate this work by Dr. Dobbs and State Epidemiologist Dr. Paul Byers, as they’ve worked tirelessly from the beginning of this virus.

The well-founded possibility that we could begin seeing a vaccine before the end of the year gives us much hope. It is also important to take this time to educate yourself on the vaccine. It’s imperative that this is taken seriously and we listen to the advice of medical professionals.

There is another message emphasized by Dr. Dobbs that should be heeded: We are so close to the finish line. Now is not the time for apathy about mitigation measures. We must remain steadfast and save the lives that can be saved as we approach the hope of future in which a sustainable solution to this pandemic exists.

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