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Memphis News & Weather | Memphis, TN | WATN - localmemphis.com

Expansion of Mississippi COVID-19 vaccinations overwhelms appointment website

At this time, the Mississippi State Department of Health says it has no additional vaccine, and every appointment is tied to an actual vaccination.
Credit: AP
Walgreens pharmacist Chris McLaurin prepares to vaccinate Lakandra McNealy, a Harmony Court Assisted Living employee, with the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2021, in Jackson, Miss. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

JACKSON, Miss — UPDATE 1/13/2021 - (NEWS RELEASE) - The Mississippi State Department of Health had a vaccine distribution plan in place that has been significantly altered in the last few days – especially in the last 24 hours. 

Neither the county health department drive-through sites, nor the UMMC vaccine scheduling website was designed to accommodate the monumental surge we are currently experiencing. At this time, we have no additional vaccine, and every appointment is tied to an actual vaccination.

The Mississippi State Department of Health hopes to receive a large shipment of vaccine in mid-February that should help put additional shots in people’s arms. We understand the frustration brought on by this sudden change of plans. We will certainly keep all Mississippians updated regarding additional vaccine.

Mississippians should understand that we can only vaccinate residents based on vaccine availability. We will open additional vaccination appointments as we receive more vaccine.

Again, the timetable was incredibly altered to make vaccinating everyone eligible impossible.

In the meantime, all Mississippians – whether vaccinated or not – should continue to follow protective guidelines. Especially avoid any social gatherings. And always wear a mask.

UMMC has provided a comment on its Facebook page regarding the Vaccine Scheduler.

"Many of the technical difficulties experienced when trying to schedule a vaccination appointment through the online scheduling tool at covidvaccine.UMC.edu have been corrected. Work continues to improve functionality. The site and server were not prepared for the surge of page visits brought on by the announcement yesterday of vaccine availability for all Mississippians 65 and older and those in younger age ranges with underlying conditions. Since we learned about the change in guidance when it was announced yesterday, we have been working diligently with our colleagues at the Mississippi State Department of Health to accommodate the changes as well as the changes needed to comply with federal data reporting requirements. We apologize for any inconvenience experienced while the scheduling tool was being updated to accommodate the greater number of people now eligible to make an appointment. Current long wait times when visiting the site are associated with the high volume of people trying to make an appointment. Vaccination sites and number of appointments available daily at each are determined by MSDH and we are working with them to update that information in the appointment tool." - UMMC Facebook

Follow MSDH by e-mail and social media at HealthyMS.com/connect.

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1/12/2021 - Mississippi residents 65 and older as well as those with preexisting conditions will now be eligible to receive the coronavirus vaccine. 

The announcement comes less than a week after the state made vaccinations available for Mississippians ages 75 and older. 

Mississippi set up drive-thru sites for vaccinations across the state. The vaccine is also available at some private clinics.

That means the vaccine is available to health care workers, those 65 and older and individuals with health conditions. Reeves said teachers will be on the list of those who will become eligible next.

Individuals can schedule an appointment by dialing the call center: 1-877-978-6453. You can also go to the website: covidvaccine.umc.edu.