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New York Times

In Mississippi, 73,000 vaccine slots and a few takers

Mississippi residents have a wealth of options when it comes to coronavirus vaccination. On Thursday, from 68,000 on Tuesday, there were more than 73,000 slots on the state scheduling website. In a sense, the increase in appointments in Mississippi is a celebration. This reflects an increase in supply that states across the country have urged anyone over the age of 16 to open their qualifications. More worrisome: Many people who don’t like being vaccinated. Sign up for The Morning Newsletter for The New York Times. “It’s time to do the hard work we need to overcome the hesitation we face,” said Dr. Obie McNair, a physician in the state capital, Jackson. Vaccines are plentiful, but not enough. Access problems remain in rural Mississippi, but experts say the state was one of the first states to open eligibility to all adults three weeks ago, and due to increased supply, the number of futures will increase. It can be a precursor to what many of the countries face in a week. Most Americans who want to book a vaccine easily. Hesitation has a national influence. Experts say that 70% to 90% of all Americans must be vaccinated in order for the country to reach herd immunity. At this point, the virus can no longer spread throughout the population. According to state data, Mississippi still has a way to go when it comes to vaccination rates, with at least one quarter of the population receiving at least one vaccination, compared to the national average of 33%. Immunization rates are similarly low in other southern states, such as Tennessee, Arkansas, Alabama, and Georgia. A closer look at Mississippi’s demographics explains why hesitation is especially noticeable. The state will definitely vote for the Republican Party, a group that remains very skeptical of the coronavirus vaccine. According to some recent surveys, nearly half of all Republicans and 40% of the total say they do not plan to be vaccinated. These numbers have barely come out in the months since the vaccine was first available. In contrast, only 4% of Democrats say they will not be vaccinated. Another factor in the state’s low vaccination rate could be the large black community in Mississippi. It makes up 38% of the state’s population, but according to state data, it makes up 31% of the dose. Vaccine hesitation remains somewhat high among African Americans, but suspicion and distrust, largely related to past government misconduct such as the infamous Tuskegee Syphilis test, have been significant in recent months. It is decreasing. According to a Kaiser Family Foundation survey released last week, about 55% of black adults have been or will be vaccinated soon, up 14 points from February to 61%, close to Hispanics. .. White, 64%. Many other Republican states are also aware that they have high doses. On Thursday, Oklahoma officials who vaccinated 34% of residents at least once announced that they would open their qualifications to out-of-state residents, and in recent weeks, the Republican governors of Ohio and Georgia have said. Expressed concern. Slow demand for vaccines among residents. Tim Callahan, an assistant professor of public health at the University of Texas A & M and an expert in vaccine skepticism, said more research is needed to find out why the slowdown in Mississippi vaccine demand is behind. It could first face the problem of being a state with a large rural population, Republican voters, and African Americans. “If you want to see the vaccine hesitation appear, it will be a red state like Mississippi,” he said. Mississippi authorities are familiar with this challenge. On Tuesday, Governor Tate Reeves held a press conference with a panel of medical professionals who tried to dispel some of the false information surrounding the vaccine. They tried to explain the vaccine development process, refuting the claim that vaccines can cause miscarriage, and talking about their own personal experience after being shot. “I had about 18 hours of eddy,” Reeves said, explaining the mild flu-like symptoms he felt after the second injection. “But I was able to continue to move forward and work, and knowing that I was vaccinated made it much better to wake up every day.” Rural Mississippi Access remains a challenge in the department, especially among African Americans living far from urban drive-through vaccination sites, which account for about half of the doses administered by the state. Scheduling systems have also proven to be frustrating for the poor and the elderly, who often lack internet access to booking reservations and transportation to remote vaccination sites. .. “We need to deliver the vaccine to people on the internet and in pop-up locations that don’t require registration in advance,” said Pam Chatman, founder of Boss Lady Workforce Transportation, a ferry-based minivan system. .. From Mississippi Delta residents to mass vaccination sites. Demand among African Americans remains strong, she said, with a long line this week outside the tents of Indianola, a small city in the Delta where a single Johnson & Johnson vaccine was offered. It was. (The tents that provide the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines that require two doses were almost empty.) But hesitation is rampant. Dr. Vernon Rayford, a Tupelo physician, said he was dissatisfied with the patient who offered various reasons for refusing the vaccine. They claim that it will give them COVID-19 or make them infertile, and they are worried about unknown effects that may appear decades later. “I’ve heard some really quirky theories,” he said. Rayford, who examines patients of all races, said he recognized the subtle differences in skepticism. African Americans have expressed distrust of the health care system, and whites have expressed more amorphous distrust of the government. “It’s like that line from’Anna Karenina’,” he said. “All happy families are similar. Each unhappy family is unhappy in their own way.” Dr. Brian Castrucci, chairman of the de Beaumont Foundation, which focuses on public health, works on ways to mitigate such fears. I was able to do it. Epidemiologist Castorucci is particularly worried about young conservatives between the ages of 18 and 34. He quoted a recent study that found that 55% of college-educated Republican women under the age of 49 were not vaccinated. “It’s this poll that keeps me awake at night,” he said. He said the biggest obstacles to expanding vaccine acceptance were the pervasive misinformation on social media and the mixed message from the Republican governor who confused people. “By relaxing COVID restrictions, elected leaders in states such as Florida, Mississippi, Texas, and Georgia are pushing the story about the coronavirus, which opposes the story that promotes the urgency of vaccination. “I will.” He said. “Unfortunately, our vaccine campaign has been canceled late at night by Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.” So far, Mississippi health officials have partnered with churches and clinics to help African Americans and Hispanics. Has concentrated much of its vaccine evasion efforts on its inhabitants. Republican Reeves has so far refused to raise skepticism among white conservatives in the state, but health officials will address the issue through Facebook and Zoom meetings with local organizations. Said that he was planning. Public health professionals say that what is needed is a well-crafted message delivered by doctors, religious leaders, and others who are trusted in a particular community. Dr. Thomas Friedan, a former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, who joined a focus group with voters of vaccine-repellent Trump organized by the De Beaumont Foundation last month, said participants want their fears acknowledged. Factual information that they are neither coveted nor neglected. “There is more than one right way to tell about vaccines, but we need multiple messages with multiple messengers,” said Friedan, head of health advocacy group Resolve to Save Lives. “And people don’t want to hear from politicians.” This article was originally published in The New York Times. © 2021 The New York Times Company

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