73K+ open COVID-19 vaccine appointments available in Mississippi; experts cite vaccine hesitancy

On April 8, more than 73,000 COVID-19 vaccine slots were open on Mississippi's scheduling website, up from 68,000 April 6, reports The New York Times.

The open appointments may reflect mounting resources, but public health experts say it may also indicate vaccine hesitancy among a large number of people. On April 6, Gov. Tate Reeves held a news conference with medical experts aiming to dispel misinformation surrounding the vaccines. 

Access is still a challenge across rural areas of Mississippi. "We've got to take the vaccines to the people, to pop-up locations that don't require internet or registration in advance," said Pam Chatman, founder of Boss Lady Workforce Transportation, a system of minivans that has been transporting Mississippi residents to mass vaccination sites.

Though access is a problem, experts say the state — which opened eligibility to all adults three weeks ago — may foreshadow what much of the country will face as increasing supplies enable most Americans who want the vaccine to easily make appointments.

Only a quarter of all Mississippi residents have received at least one dose, compared to the national average of 33 percent, according to state data. Other Southern states, such as Tennessee, Arkansas, Alabama and Georgia, have similarly low rates of vaccination.

Public health experts say well-crafted messages from healthcare providers, religious leaders and other trusted figures in a particular community can help combat vaccine hesitancy.

 

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