Dobbs: COVID-19 vaccine timeline hard to determine due to uncertainty of supply

Updated: Dec. 22, 2020 at 8:33 PM CST
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - With Tuesday’s 79 reported coronavirus deaths reaching an all-time high, state health leaders aim to prevent COVID-19 transmission as best they can through the traditional ways -- masks, social distancing -- while waiting on enough vaccine doses to defeat the virus outright.

″We will have vaccine for everybody, you know, at some point,” said State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs. “We’re still working on the details, but certainly the vulnerable folks need to have it available very soon.”

Dobbs said there are three phases where vaccine doses will be given to certain people in the state first.

Mississippi is currently in Phase 1a, where health care workers have been getting the vaccine since last week and soon, long-term care residents and employees will also become inoculated.

Sometime in January, Dobbs projects, they may be able to start Phase 1b, which would allow people over 75 and frontline essential workers, like first responders and teachers, to get the vaccine.

There is no date for Phase 1c, which includes food service workers, transportation and public safety, according to recommendations provided by the Centers for Disease Control.

A tweet from Dobbs shows some of the vaccines already given out: last week, about half of the state’s Pfizer vaccine doses went to the five major health systems in the state, including UMMC.

This week’s 50,000 Moderna doses will go to all other hospitals left out of that initial run.

″Over 4,500 doses to providers have been given, which is good with the 12,600 doses that have already been sent out to those hospitals early on,” said State Epidemiologist Dr. Paul Byers.

That chart from Dobbs shows 60,000 Pfizer doses going to long-term care facilities also, even though the state doesn’t have that much to allocate yet.

“I have to tell you how excited we are about having that opportunity for CVS and Walgreens to come in and assist with with vaccinating that vulnerable population,” Byers said. “That’s going to be so important and so huge.”

Deaths associated with long-term care facilities make up more than one-third of all COVID-19 deaths statewide.

“Once we start seeing the demand for 1a healthcare folks, once we’ve sort of saturated that population, we’ll probably will overlap it with 1b. But you know, as you saw, it’s going to be weeks of 1a before we can even think about 1b and then, some of it’s also going to depend on allocations that are not entirely clear,” Dobbs said.

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