UMMC experts discuss distribution of COVID-19 vaccine

Coronavirus

JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – On Wednesday, the University of Mississippi Medical Center (UMMC) in Jackson started the process of distributing the COVID-19 vaccine. The vaccine will be distributed to UMMC employees, who are at the highest risk of contracting the virus.

UMMC received its first allotment of the vaccine on Monday, December 14. The Pfizer and BioNTech vaccine is being stored in a freezer at ultra-cold temperatures.

“This feels like a day of celebration and a day of some good news,” said Dr. LouAnn Woodward, vice chancellor for health affairs and dean of the School of Medicine. “We have had, this year, a few opportunities to share good news, but when it comes to this pandemic, there is nothing that has compared to today, when we are finally able to distribute vaccine to some of our employees. This is what I hope and pray and believe is a turning point in our experience with this pandemic. I think this is how we are going to get through to the other side.” 

An employee COVID-19 vaccine clinic started operations Wednesday afternoon in the lobby area of the Blair E. Batson Tower at Children’s of Mississippi. The former lobby for the children’s hospital has not been in use since November and is separated from Children’s of Mississippi patients and their families by temporary walls.  

The COVID-19 vaccine clinic includes 10 private cubicles where the vaccine is administered. Each hour, up to six vaccinations can be given in each cubicle for a maximum of 60 inoculations per hour.  

The COVID-19 vaccination is not mandatory for UMMC employees, but it is strongly encouraged by Medical Center leadership. Proper mask usage, along with handwashing, social distancing and other COVID-19 precautions, will still be required after employees receive the vaccine. 

Woodward said the advent of the COVID-19 vaccine does not mean that the community should stop following Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines such as wearing face masks and social distancing, aimed at stopping the spread of COVID-19.

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