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Panola vaccination rate matches state total

Panola County’s rate of vaccinations for the Covid-19 virus is about 27 percent, almost exactly the same as the state average.

Some 9,288 county residents have been fully vaccinated and another 1,000 have received a first dose. Statewide, about 914,000 of Mississippi’s 3.1 million residents have been fully vaccinated.

State health officials have expressed frustration with the vaccination percentages, emphasizing that availability is not an issue. Rather, they say, apathy is the reason Mississippi is lagging behind other states in having its population inoculated.

State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs said he guarantees the state is among the easiest in the country to get a vaccine but many people refuse because they don’t think they need it.

“I think that’s something that we really struggle with because it’s part of our health care culture here,” he said during a virtual conversation with the Mississippi Medical Association.

Later, he said: “It’s really sad because people in foreign countries would saw off their small toe to get a COVID vaccine, and … we’re not gonna take five minutes as we walk by the Kroger pharmacy.”

Locally, Emergency Operations Director Daniel Cole and Panola Medical Center COO Chris Ware are repeating the same message. Both say that shots are readily available for anyone wishing to receive any of the three vaccines available.

Panola Medical has also taken the extra step of procuring options for homebound citizens. The local hospital has been given guidelines to send nurses to individual houses to give shots, although Ware said there has not been many requests for that service.

“Anybody that wants a shot can definitely get a shot in Panola County,” said Cole. “That’s not been a problem at all. The Mississippi State Department of Health, the hospital, and other providers in our county have made it very easy to take the vaccines for those who are interested.”

The most vaccinated state in the country, Vermont, has reported a 56 percent total of the population, more than double what Mississippi has so far achieved.