State health officials are strongly encouraging all Mississippians to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

“Now is the time for you to get vaccinated,” said Dr. Thomas Dobbs, the state health officer, at a press briefing on Tuesday. “It’s time for you to get your kids vaccinated — if they’re 16 and older — your neighbors, your parents, your aunts and uncles.”

On Tuesday, all people who are 16 years or older and who live or work in Mississippi became eligible for COVID-19 vaccination. Dobbs said now is “the right time” for the opening up of eligibility in the state. 

Dobbs expects that vaccine supply is going to expand. He wants to ensure that there is enough demand for the vaccine when the supply increases.  

“We don’t want to waste a week of a vaccine sitting on a shelf when it can be inside somebody, preventing transmission and keeping them out of the hospital,” Dobbs said. 

To book an appointment at a Mississippi State Department of Health drive-thru vaccination site, visit covidvaccine.umc.edu or call 877-978-6453. 16- or 17-year-olds cannot make an appointment on the website — they have to call the phone number. 

Dr. Victor D. Sutton, the director of MSDH’s Office of Preventive Health and Health Equity, announced at the news briefing that a new program will help make vaccine available to vulnerable populations. Churches, community organizations or other community entities will be able to host vaccination events. They would need to call (877) 978-6453 and press 2 to host an event. 

COVID-19 case and death numbers

Mississippi reported 369 new cases of the coronavirus and 27 additional COVID-19 related deaths on Tuesday, bringing the state’s totals to 301,250 cases and 6,929 deaths.

COVID-19 case and death numbers for local counties are listed below.

Lauderdale County: six new cases; 6,946 total cases since March 2020. One additional death, which occurred between Jan. 12 and March 11 and was identified from death certificate reports; 231 total deaths since March 2020.

Clarke County: no new cases; 1,723 total cases. One additional death, which occurred between Jan. 12 and March 11 and was identified from death certificate reports; 75 total deaths since March 2020.

Neshoba County: six new cases; 3,908 total cases. No additional deaths; 172 total deaths since March 2020.

Newton County: eight new cases; 2,373 total cases. No additional deaths; 54 total deaths since March 2020.

Kemper County: one new case; 928 total cases. One additional death, which occurred between Jan. 12 and March 11 and was identified from death certificate reports; 25 total deaths since March 2020. 

The Mississippi State Department of Health presumed that 287,341 people in Mississippi had recovered from COVID-19 as of March 15. The department also reported that there are 47 ongoing outbreaks of COVID-19 in long-term-care facilities.

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