MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Mississippi health officials report vaccinating about 70 percent of people 65 and over with at least one dose.
But vaccine demand is dropping dramatically and a new study may reveal why.
In April, there’s been a consistent drop each week in vaccinations in Mississippi. About 50,000 fewer vaccines were administered last week than the beginning of the month.
“We knew we were going to have trouble getting younger people immunized. It’s the same things we’ve seen with flu shots and other things, so that’s going to continue to be an uphill battle,” said Dr. Thomas Dobbs, Mississippi state health officer.
A new Mississippi COVID-19 Vaccine Confidence Survey sheds some light on why demand is dwindling.
Out of 11,000 Mississippians surveyed across the state, about 73 percent said they will definitely or likely take the vaccine, but nearly 27 percent were either undecided or said they would not take the vaccine.
Of those undecided or unwilling, most were either Black or Latino.
“I think what we found out is we’ve got to do more education around the safety of the vaccine, side effects, and effectiveness. We’re still dealing with myths,” said Sr. Victor Sutton, director of the Office of Preventive Health.
Sutton says the state is doing more to improve access to the vaccine, changing the focus from primarily public drive-through vaccination sites and pharmacies.
“We have partnered with housing apartments around the state, faith-based organizations around the state, community health organizations, elected officials, and bringing the vaccine to your doorstep, bringing it to your community,” he said.
Sixty percent of Mississippians said they would likely get the vaccine if their regular primary medical care provider encouraged them to do so.
When asked about vaccinating their children, only 52 percent of those surveyed said they would.
The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is again approved to be administered in Mississippi, but health officials are asking providers to advise patients of the rare blood clots associated with the vaccine and to hand out educational literature.