JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Gov. Tate Reeves gave an update Monday on the state’s efforts to roll out the COVID-19 vaccine.
Reeves said he had spoken to officials with CVS and Walgreen’s pharmacies, which are partnering with the federal government to distribute vaccines to nursing homes and long-term care facilities.
“They continue to tell us that we’re on track for most nursing homes to be served by the end of the month,” the governor said. “I have fairly significant data that shows approximately 95 percent of all nursing home residents will have access to the vaccine by the end of the month.”
Reeves also discussed the challenges healthcare officials have faced in meeting the demand for the vaccine.
To help speed up the rollout, the state has worked to increase capacity on the website and at its call center.
It is also opening a new drive-through vaccination center at Smith-Wills Stadium in Jackson, which will have 1,200 doses allocated to it next week.
The Hinds County location will open Thursday, January 21, and three days next week, according to MSDH spokeswoman Liz Sharlot. Four-hundred doses are expected to available there Thursday.
All appointments there had been booked, according to the COVID vaccine website.
However, appointments were available at most other sites throughout the state, excluding Rankin County.
As for issues with the website, Reeves said officials with the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency, University of Mississippi Medical Center and Mississippi State Department of Health worked “tirelessly” over the last week to increase capacity on the website, which is already paying off.
“Yesterday, our website was surge tested and able to handle 6,000 users hitting the site every single second,” Reeves said, referring to website tests done Sunday. “We should not have additional issues going forward.”
Meanwhile, the state has “tremendously bulked up” its call center, to help cut down on busy signals and wait times. “I believe I heard the term ‘quadrupled’ in size with more lines and people to communicate,” he said.
The governor also discussed efforts to re-allocate vaccines to ensure that they get out as quickly as possible. Of the 147 hospitals on the state’s hospital and private clinic list, he said that 94 of them had given out less than half of the shots that had been allocated.
“We made the decision this week that we will only give to providers that have given out 65 percent of current doses,” he said.
“As it becomes more and more clear we’re only going to resupply clinics who have exhibited an ability to get shots in arms, we’ve seen more of an effort to get shots in arms,” Reeves added. “I am hopeful that many who were below 50 percent last week are better now. "
About 50,000 first-doses have been allocated to hospitals and private clinics.
That news comes as the state also works with the feds to reallocate unused doses from the nursing home program to clinics, drive-throughs, and hospitals in the state.
“We’ve convinced them to give us (5,800) doses and we hope to get that many more this week,” Reeves said.
In all, the state has between 67,000 and 68,000 doses available, of which about half will be put into arms this week.
Now, the state is also preparing to expand its first doses and begin giving second doses.
“With 100,000 Mississippians vaccinated, we’re not where we need to be and we have a long way to go. We’ve got hundreds of thousands more (vaccines) to do in the coming weeks or months,” he said. “A lot of Mississippians are doing everything in their power and everything possible to get this vaccine distributed, and I for one and proud of them.”