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COVID vaccinations available statewide

Elderly residents in the community are eager to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

As of Jan. 9, a vaccine for the coronavirus became available to residents ages 75 and up at King’s Daughters Medical Center.

Tuesday afternoon, Gov. Tate Reeves announced Mississippi adults age 65 and older can be vaccinated against COVID-19 at any of the State Health Department’s drive-through sites.

There currently is no vaccination site in Lincoln County, though county Emergency Management Director Clifford Galey said he is hoping that changes soon.

On Jan. 7, 300 doses of the vaccine were delivered to KDMC. On Jan. 8, the hospital opened its phone lines so individuals could make an appointment to receive the vaccine. All 300 doses had been claimed within 90 minutes.

“We were able to give those out on Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.,” Hoover said. “That process went really smoothly. We were able to educate those individuals and give them their vaccines.”

KDMC has received a second round of doses, this time 500 instead of 300. Hoover said the phone lines will open for those Wednesday at 10 a.m.

“I expect to have 500 folks signed up in 90 minutes,” Hoover said. “It won’t take long.”

Hoover reflected on the importance of Saturday with positivity.

“Saturday was a special day,” Hoover said. “Everyone was so grateful. Everyone we had working that day was so excited. The gratefulness, the appreciation, the hope people had after getting the vaccine, it was one of my favorite days since this pandemic.”

For Brookhaven resident Joanne Pickering, receiving the vaccine is very important. Pickering, 80, had called around several doctor’s offices to inquire about the vaccine but had no luck.

“We have a hard time trying to find anything out,” Pickering said. “I called around and asked multiple places. None of the doctor’s offices had it and didn’t know when they would get it.”

A friend of hers living in Louisiana was able to receive the vaccine. Pickering continued digging and found out that cities around Brookhaven had the vaccine, but Brookhaven itself did not.

Once she read about the vaccine, Pickering wanted to protect herself by getting vaccinated. She called the COVID-19 hotline through the Mississippi Department of Health but had difficulty getting through.

“It took forever to get through,” Pickering said. “But I finally got through on the helpline.”

Pickering scheduled an appointment in McComb for this week and is excited about receiving the vaccine.

“I’ll feel safer,” Pickering said. “A lot of people have already taken it. I feel safe taking it.”

Pickering is also on the wait list for Meadville Medical Center. She said the hospital there is vaccinating individuals according to age.

“They haven’t called me yet, so I’ll probably be taking it in McComb,” Pickering said.

Pickering is receiving the vaccine because she does not want to risk catching the virus.

“I don’t want to have COVID-19,” Pickering said. “I have a niece in California that’s 50 and she’s been on the ventilator for 31 days. Yesterday they told the family there’s not much hope of her coming off of it.”

For Pickering, the virus could be fatal.

“I’m afraid of it. I’ve taken it seriously since it began,” Pickering said. “I think people should be as careful as they can and they’re not in Brookhaven. I see so many people who are not taking this thing serious.”

She hopes people will protect themselves and make good decisions.

“I just hope that everyone will stay safe and will do what they need to do to protect themselves and others,” Pickering said. “Even if it helps a little, wearing a mask is a small thing.”

Appointments are required and time slots are in high demand. Appointments can be made online at covidvaccine.umc.edu or by calling 877-978-6453.

Those arriving at drive-through sites should expect paperwork and the vaccination to take about 10 minutes, plus a 15-minute observation period after vaccination.

A second dose of the vaccine is required to be fully protected against the coronavirus. A schedule card will be given to each shot recipient. Depending on which vaccine is received, follow-up dosages will be given either 21 or 28 days after the first vaccination shot.

Even after being vaccinated, individuals are urged to wear masks and follow social distancing guidelines.