State health officials urge residents to get vaccinated

Published 9:21 am Friday, July 30, 2021

State health experts suggest that all residents get the COVID-19 vaccine, stating that most of the deaths related to the virus are occurring in people who have not received it.

State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs said that 80 percent of the deaths health professionals have seen recently now that the Delta variant has become the dominant strain in Mississippi  have occurred in cases where the patient was not vaccinated.

They have also seen deaths in children, including two in the age range of 11 to 17, one in the 6 to 10 age range and one in a child between the ages of 1 to 5. Dobbs followed those statistics up with a statement that severe outcomes in cases involving children are rare.

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State Epidemiologist Dr. Paul Byers said that medical personnel have also recorded breakthrough cases, or cases where vaccinated individuals fall ill to the Delta variant and even die.

He recommends anyone who is 12-years or older be vaccinated. Byers added that everyone should wear a mask while in an indoor setting, even if they have been vaccinated.

Anyone 65 or older should avoid any type of indoor gathering, even if they are vaccinated, Byers said.

Currently, the state has recorded 100 outbreaks in long term care facilities, 75 of which occurred in nursing homes.

Vaccine rates in the state are below the national average. Byers said that so far, 34 percent of Mississippians have been vaccinated, compared to the national average of 49 percent.

When broken out by age range, the statistics show 57 percent of children aged 12 to 18 in the United States have been vaccinated, compared to Mississippi’s 39 percent.

In the 18 to 65 age group, 60 percent of Americans have been vaccinated on average, but in Mississippi that number is 42 percent.

As for those residents who are older than 65, the national average of vaccinated people is 80 percent, and 70 percent in the state.

Byers added that the majority of deaths are being recorded in people who are 50 or older, most of which were not vaccinated.

With schools set to reopen soon, Byers said that the state’s leading health officials plan to follow suit with the Centers for Disease Control guidelines, which state all teachers, staff and visitors wear masks while on campus, regardless if they have been vaccinated or not.

Senior Deputy and Director of Health Protection Jim Craig said on Wednesday that all hospitals are having difficulty keeping up with the health demands of the public due to the rising number of COVID-19 cases.