Mississippi became the second state to expand eligibility for the COVID-19 vaccine to all its adult residents on March 16.
President Joe Biden called on every state to open vaccine eligibility to all their residents by May 1, putting Mississippi more than a month ahead of most other U.S. states. Alaska became the first state to open up the COVID-19 vaccine to anyone 16 and older on March 9, just a week before Mississippi.
Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves announced the move via Twitter on March 15. “Starting tomorrow, ALL new appointments will be open to ALL Mississippians,” he wrote. “Get your shot friends—and let’s get back to normal!”
While vaccine production efforts have ramped up significantly during Biden’s tenure, the challenge of getting Americans vaccinated remains. Large vaccination sites are opening up or expanding across the country, in hopes of seeing a far greater number of vaccines administered each day. More than 100 million vaccine doses have been administered in the U.S. since the start of the pandemic, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Upward of 38 million Americans are fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
Several hurdles remain, including vaccine hesitancy and a lack of access among communities of color.
Mississippi’s move is a step in the right direction for a state that has struggled to get its citizens vaccinated. The percentage of Mississippians who have been vaccinated thus far lags behind the majority of U.S. states, but the relaxed eligibility should change that. Currently, around 20% of Mississippians have received at least their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, and around 11% are fully vaccinated.
Several other states are following in form, though most will have longer delays than Mississippi. Michigan is set to expand its eligibility on April 5, and Connecticut is tentatively aiming for the same date.
Other states and cities, including Washington D.C., are merely hoping to meet Biden’s May 1 goal. According to the New York Times. New York aims to expand eligibility over the next several days, to include “government employees, building services workers, and employees of nonprofit groups.”
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