JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV/AP) – State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs hosted an hour-long discussion with the general public on COVID-19, including upcoming vaccine availability.
Dr. Dobbs said the state is experiencing a severe surge in the virus. He said the new cases are causing a stress in Mississippi’s health system.
On Thursday, Dr. Dobbs said there are no ICU beds available in Jackson. He also said there are very few ICU beds available elsewhere in the state.
State Epidemiologist Dr. Paul Byers reiterated the need for people to wear masks, follow social distancing guidelines and limit the number of social gatherings.
In the last couple of weeks there have been more than 10,000 new cases in Mississippi and 150 deaths, an “astounding” number, Byers said.
Based on the initial information about the COVID-19 vaccine from Pfizer, Dr. Dobbs said it’s looking positive. He said the vaccine should get a good, thorough review before it’s available.
Dr. Byers said Mississippi has been tentatively approved to receive an initial round of 183,000 doses of the vaccine developed by Pfizer and partner BioNTech, which officials are hoping to see delivered by mid-December.
Supplies are limited, so those who are the most high-risk will get the vaccine first, Byers said. It could be several months before the vaccine is available to the public. The vaccine is expected to be for those who are 18 and older. A vaccine for children is not available at this time.
“We need to make we get them protected,” Byers said of the state’s health care workers, during a virtual news conference. “Those are the individuals who are taking care of the COVID-19 patients in the hospital, in the clinical setting. That’s going to be the first push.”
Byers and State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs said the vaccine shipment is pending federal approval, but that the news they’ve received so for about trials on the new vaccine is encouraging.
The true number of virus infections is thought to be far higher because many people have not been tested and studies suggest people can infect others even when they don’t feel sick. The virus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most but can be more severe or fatal for some, especially older adults and those with underlying health conditions.
Watch the full MSDH news conference below (Video Courtesy: MSDH):