Photo: DeSoto County EMS Director Mark Davis details new information about COVID-19 trends in the county during the Board of Supervisors meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 19. (Bob Bakken/DeSoto County News)
DeSoto County residents eligible to get the coronavirus vaccine through the state health department are encouraged to keep trying if they don’t get an appointment right away. The availability of appointments has been expanded, officials said.
This week, Mississippians age 65 and older are eligible to get the COVID-19 through appointments people can set up on the internet or through a specified phone number. Others from age 18-64 with underlying medical conditions may also get the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines.
The internet address to make an appointment is https://covidvaccine.umc.edu/. The phone number to call and schedule a vaccine appointment is (877) 978-6453.
Many people have expressed concern in recent days about the inability to get through on the phone. There were also worries that some elderly people who are eligible for the vaccine need assistance and may become frustrated trying to navigate through the website to make an appointment.
State officials have stated the number of people answering incoming phone calls have now grown by four times and the technical issues that have occurred with the website are being addressed.
Monday, Gov. Tate Reeves said more than 100,000 Mississippians had received the vaccine and more than 9,000 Mississippians have completed both doses.
Health officials add the appointment for the second dose of the vaccine should be made at the same time the first appointment is set. The vaccine must be the same type of vaccine both times.
There is a misconception that the two doses are different, but DeSoto County EMS Director Mark Davis explained during Tuesday’s County Board of Supervisors meeting that the doses are the same. The reason for the two doses is to improve the already strong percentage of effectiveness.
“The second dose is the exact same as the first dose,” Davis told supervisors. “There’s not two different versions, it’s still the same dose. When you get the second dose in 21 or 28 days, it’s still the same shot.”
Another issue is the ability to get the vaccine. During Tuesday’s meeting, supervisors said the county is working with the Governor’s office and health officials to expand vaccination opportunities in DeSoto County and an announcement on that is expected to come in the near future from Jackson.
The Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH) Tuesday added 60 new coronavirus cases in DeSoto County and five new COVID-19 related death reports to the pandemic toll.
The county has now recorded 17,257 positive cases and 180 deaths, according to the MSDH daily update.
Two of the latest county fatalities were from the period of Jan. 1-18 and the other three were from the period dating back to Dec. 14 to Jan. 18.
Mississippi has a total of 255,125 positive cases and 5,574 deaths from coronavirus since the pandemic started.
Tuesday, Baptist Memorial Hospital-DeSoto reported 67 coronavirus patients at its hospital and nine available staffed beds. Baptist-DeSoto also had 11 COVID-19 intensive care unit (ICU) patients and no available ICU beds.
Methodist-Olive Branch Hospital has reported 30 confirmed coronavirus patients at its facility, as of Tuesday’s report to the state, and reported eight COVID-19 ICU patients. The state report from Methodist did not list any open beds in either the main area or in ICU. Hospital officials in the past have advised that those numbers are not static during the day and may fluctuate with dismissals.
The state information is available on the MSDH website.
Meanwhile, as the schools returned to class Tuesday from the extended Martin Luther King Day weekend, DeSoto County Schools (DCS) provided the district’s latest update on new coronavirus cases and quarantines among its school children and staff members.
As a district, DCS listed 70 new student positive cases and 592 new student quarantines for the week ending Jan. 15.
The most new cases came from Southaven High School and Southaven Intermediate School, each with eight new cases. The most number of quarantines were reported at Lewisburg Middle School, where there were only four new cases, but there were 67 new quarantines.
During the week, 37 school staff members were reported as new coronavirus cases.
The weekly report from the district is found on the DeSoto County Schools website.