Appointments to receive the COVID vaccine are filling up as quickly as they become available, and not only at OCH Regional Medical Center but also across the state.
On Tuesday, Governor Reeves announced people ages 65 and up and those who are 18-64 with high risk medical conditions are eligible to receive the vaccine. This particular group falls in phase 1c.1 of Mississippi State Department of Health’s tier system for COVID vaccination, which was originally scheduled for eligibility in February. This change in the guidance from MSDH adds to the increase in demand for the vaccine.
“We are encouraged to see so many people in our community and state who want to receive the vaccine. That is what has to happen to achieve herd immunity,” said OCH Interim Chief Nursing Officer and Infection Control Director Savannah Brown. “Safety is paramount, so we are asking for patience from the public as we administer these vaccines as quickly as possible in a safe environment,” said Brown.
The vials holding the vaccine contain 10 doses and expire after six hours of opening. OCH Pharmacy Director Stacy Weaver said the hospital has been good stewards of the vaccine, which she referred to as “liquid gold.”
“We are closely monitoring the dissemination process, and we are proud to say we have not discarded a single dose of the vaccine. If we have even one dose left in a vial, we call someone who hasn’t received the shot and give the vaccine to a person who is eligible,” said Weaver.
MSDH allocates the number of vaccines given to a facility and determines who is eligible to receive the vaccine. To date, OCH has received 1,200 doses of the first round of vaccines and has administered approximately 700 of those doses to healthcare personnel and people 75 and older.
The Moderna vaccine is a series of two shots, given one month apart. OCH will begin administering its second round of vaccines on Monday, January 18 to those who were the first to receive the vaccine in December.
As OCH transitions into administering the second doses, while continuing to provide first-round doses, specific days will be allocated to different groups. Tuesdays will be reserved for healthcare personnel and Fridays will include the at-risk population such as those 65 and older and adults with serious health conditions.
The vaccination process includes documentation for public health records and patient observation for 15 minutes following vaccination. The public is strongly encouraged to make a reservation here. To request an appointment by phone, call 662-615-2981; however, please understand that OCH is receiving a high volume of calls at this time.
To make an appointment at one of MSDH’s drive-thru vaccination clinics, visit covidvaccine.umc.edu or call 1-877-978-6453.