Mississippi health official: ‘Under every circumstance, the vaccine is better than COVID’

Gov. Tate Reeves announced during a Tuesday news conference over 550,000 Mississippians are fully vaccinated, though he cautioned residents still need to continue to get vaccinated. 

“I’m optimistic we are near the end of this road,” Reeves said during the conversation with several health experts. 

Between 25,000 to 30,000 Mississippians receive a vaccine dose each day, he said.

Alongside climbing vaccinations in the state, the seven-day case average has plummeted from the January peak of 2,400 to 200. Hospitalizations declined from the 1,444 to 163 in the same time span. COVID-19 patients on ventilators has also dropped from 230 to 35 during that time.

Based on Mississippi State Department of Health data, of the nearly three million residents, 18.6% have been fully vaccinated

Up until now there has been more demand than supply for the vaccines. But Reeves said that might flip in the coming weeks.

Much of the skepticism around the vaccines is how quickly they were developed and approved. But researchers weren’t starting from scratch, according to a Medical News Today story. 

Dr. Clay Hays, a Jackson-based cardiologist, said COVID-19 vaccine development was based on existing research, similar to how new cholesterol medications are made.

“We feel the vaccine is very safe,” Hays said at the Tuesday news conference. 

According to Pfizer’s website, 43,000 people participated in the vaccine trial. As of Tuesday, five months into the vaccination process, 63 million Americans were fully vaccinated, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It’s a “much larger trial size now,” Reeves said.

“Under every circumstance, the vaccine is better than COVID,” State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs said during the news conference.

Post-vaccine side effects have also worried people. The governor gave his own two cents. He struggled with a fever and flu-like symptoms after getting vaccinated, but he said he was still able to work, and the side effects were gone within a few days.

Fever and body aches are to be expected, Hays said. He estimated one out of every four people experience vaccine side effects, but Hays explained it’s the body’s way of developing immunity to the virus.

Of the expected rate of side effect-outcomes from the vaccines, Hays said the actual rate has been much lower.

Among the topics during the Tuesday discussion, the vaccine causing infertility was one.

Pregnancy and the COVID-19 vaccine:MS health experts say pregnant women show strong immune response to COVID-19 vaccine

Dr. Merideth Travelstead, an obstetrics and gynecology specialist, said COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy is an everyday conversation with her patients. While she said it’s still a personal decision, the research supports pregnant and lactating women getting the vaccine.

Dobbs said he sees positive results from the Pfizer study looking at vaccine use in children. He hopes by the summer vaccines will be available for all age groups.

For those who are young and healthy, getting vaccinated is still important, Dobbs said. Young people can die or end up on ventilators. But more likely, COVID-19 can leave lingering symptoms.

“You avoid all that with the vaccine,” Dobbs said.

April 6 COVID-19 :Coronavirus in Mississippi: 183 new cases, 18 deaths reported Tuesday

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