Thomas Dobbs

Dr. Thomas Dobbs speaking to a group of reporters during a visit to DeSoto County.

The first COVID-19 vaccine in Mississippi will be given this afternoon at 1:00, according to a tweet from State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs.

Dobbs and State Epidemiologist Dr. Paul Byers will be the first two people to receive the vaccine, they said last week.

The first shipment of doses in the state, which are expected to be distributed this week, will be given to 25,000 health care workers.

Though Dobbs signaled hope about the distribution of the new vaccine, he said it would just be another tool to stop the spread of the virus. Without distancing and wearing masks, the vaccine can not end the current health care crisis, he said.

The first doses of the newly approved vaccine were shipped from a Pfizer factory in Michigan to FedEx in Memphis on Sunday. The first outbound shipment of the vaccine from FedEx was to Jackson, according to reporting from The Daily Memphian.

There will be drive-thru vaccinations available at county health departments for all health care workers who are not offered an option to get vaccinated through their health care center, according to Byers.

The vaccine has arrived at a critical time for Mississippi. On Friday, ICUs across the state were full, according to a tweet from Dobbs. The number of new daily reported cases and total hospitalizations are higher now than ever before.

At time of publication, over 4,200 Mississippians have died from the virus, and over 180,000 have been infected. Almost 10% of people infected with the virus in the state end up in the hospital, according to Dobbs.

Though the state is set to vaccinate 25,000 front-line health care workers across the state, Dobbs said that vaccines will not be available to all Mississippians until late spring or summer.

Dr. Robert Redfield, the Center for Disease Control director, said in a webinar with the University of Tennessee Medical Center on Monday that the biggest challenge for the United States is no longer scientific barriers — it’s getting people to take the vaccine.

“These are large trials that have been done… They are monitored very carefully, as we know,” Redfield said of the trials for the vaccine. “My biggest challenge is vaccine hesitancy.”

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