JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – In a letter sent to doctors, hospitals and clinics across Mississippi, State Epidemiologist Dr. Paul Byers said the number of cases, hospitalizations and deaths due to COVID-19 are increasing in the state.

According to the letter, the majority of cases, hospitalizations and deaths in the state are among those who are unvaccinated. Byers said deaths in fully vaccinated individuals have been identified. More than 35 vaccine breakthrough deaths have been confirmed.

The Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH) is recommending that doctors and clinicians consider a booster or third dose of the COVID-19 vaccine for certain high-risk groups with immunocompromising conditions.

  • Conditions and treatments associated with moderate to severe immune compromise
  • Active or recent treatment for solid tumor or hematologic malignancies
  • Receipt of solid-organ or recent hematopoietic stem cell transplant
  • Severe primary immunodeficiency
  • Advanced or untreated HIV
  • Treatment with immunosuppressive medications such as cancer chemotherapeutic agents, TNF blockers, certain biologic agents (e.g., rituximab), and high-dose corticosteroids
  • Chronic conditions associated with varying degrees of immune deficit, such as asplenia or chronic renal disease.
  • Other underlying medical conditions and treatments that may lead to immunosuppression based on the physician or clinical team assessment.

Byers recommended the following for additional considerations for booster or third doses of COVID-19 vaccination:

  • Consider waiting at least 4 weeks after the final dose in the original vaccine series prior to administering a booster dose.
  • If feasible and available, providers may elect to perform qualitative spike protein antibody testing to determine the presence or absence of detectable antibodies prior to booster dosing. If utilizing antibody testing in the decision process for booster vaccine, consider antibody testing 4-6 weeks after final dose in the original series.
  • If original series is with mRNA vaccines (Pfizer or Moderna), the recommendation is to consider utilizing the same manufacturer for the booster or third dose.
  • If the original vaccine was Johnson and Johnson, the recommendation is to consider utilizing Pfizer mRNA vaccine as the booster vaccine.

Click here to read the full letter.