Mississippi can take this as a compliment of sorts: During the pandemic, we appear to be a destination of choice for a few thousand people looking for access to vaccinations.
State health officials said last week that about 2% of the coronavirus vaccines given in Mississippi have gone to people with an out-of state address. By the numbers, this adds up to 6,700 of the 334,000 shots given so far.
Interestingly, the New Orleans Times-Picayune has reported that Louisiana residents are coming to Mississippi to get vaccinated, apparently because the guidelines here are not as strict. If this is true, we’re not talking about a whole lot of people crossing the state line — yet.
While both states now allow anyone 65 or older to be immunized, the Picayune said Mississippi has a longer list of underlying health conditions that allow younger people to get the vaccine. Some of those who are crossing the state line are getting information from online message groups about the best place to go.
Health officials said vaccines are supposed to go to Mississippi residents or people from other states who work here. But workers at vaccination sites are not checking IDs or verifying that people from out of state who show up for a shot actually work in Mississippi.
Dr. Thomas Dobbs, the state health officer, said that at some point, the Department of Health must depend on the honesty of vaccine recipients. It’s obvious that a few people are being sneaky — no more than 2%, fortunately — and health officials are letting this poor behavior pass by so they can focus their staffs on the bigger picture of giving the vaccine to as many people as possible.
Another part of the bigger picture is this: Unless there is an increase in the number of vaccines available, a logjam could develop as people facing a deadline to get their second shot crowd out those looking for their first one.
“The need to give each person two doses a few weeks apart vastly complicates the country’s biggest-ever vaccination campaign,” The Associated Press reported. “And persistent uncertainty about future vaccine supplies fuels worries that some people will not be able to get their second shots in time.”