As reported last week by the Daily Journal’s Caleb Bedillion, demand for coronavirus vaccination among staff at long-term care facilities, including nursing and assisted living homes, has been lower than desired, according to State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs.

In response to questions by the Daily Journal, Dobbs said the Mississippi State Department of Health is “trying to understand the hesitancy and the concerns” from some staff at these facilities. He was adamant that such workers need the vaccine for the safety of the residents under their care.

“Of all the health care workers in the country, they need to have it more than anyone,” Dobbs said at a recent press briefing.

The Journal fully agrees with Dr. Dobbs.

According to data provided by the Mississippi State Department of Health, as of Friday, 10,034 of the state’s 261,167 confirmed COVID-19 cases recorded since March 2020 have been among long-term care residents – around 4%.

But COVID-19 deaths among long-term care residents account for nearly 33% of the state’s total coronavirus deaths. Of the 5,713 deaths reported by the MSDH since March, 1,869 have been attributed to outbreaks in long-term care facilities.

We feel it is time for the governor to mandate that anyone working in or around a nursing home or long-term care facility be vaccinated. The residents of long-term care facilities are among the most vulnerable, and those who are tasked with their care should take every precaution available to them to ensure their safety.

As Dr. Dobbs has said, “Unless your doctor says you can’t get it, you need to get it.” Hundreds of people a week are still dying in Mississippi from COVID-19. The single most vulnerable group of people are our elderly in nursing homes and long-term care facilities. They must be protected.

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