More Adams County residents receiving COVID vaccines

Published 1:30 pm Tuesday, August 24, 2021

NATCHEZ — Recent efforts from local officials to reach Adams County residents and encourage them to be vaccinated against COVID-19 appear to be working.

According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the percentage of people in Adams County who have received at least one vaccine dose is up by 8 percent since July.

As of Monday, the CDC reported 48.3 percent of Adams County residents, or 14,992 people, have received at least one vaccine dose while 38.8 percent, or 12,065 people, are fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

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Compared to last month, the CDC reported the number of Adams County residents with least one vaccine dose was less than 40 percent while less that 35 percent were fully vaccinated.

This slight uptick in local vaccinations comes before the Food and Drug Administration announced Pfizer is the first COVID-19 vaccine to receive FDA approval for use in patients 16 and older, which many hope will bring on surge of new vaccinations.

The vaccine also continues to be available under emergency use authorization for individuals 12 through 15 years of age and for the administration of a third dose in certain immunocompromised individuals, the FDA states.

“The FDA’s approval of this vaccine is a milestone as we continue to battle the COVID-19 pandemic. While this and other vaccines have met the FDA’s rigorous, scientific standards for emergency use authorization, as the first FDA-approved COVID-19 vaccine, the public can be very confident that this vaccine meets the high standards for safety, effectiveness, and manufacturing quality the FDA requires of an approved product,” said Acting FDA Commissioner Janet Woodcock, M.D. “While millions of people have already safely received COVID-19 vaccines, we recognize that for some, the FDA approval of a vaccine may now instill additional confidence to get vaccinated. Today’s milestone puts us one step closer to altering the course of this pandemic in the U.S.”

In early August, the City of Natchez, working with Adams County, the Natchez-Adams School District, Magnolia Health and Merit Health Natchez, launched a vaccination campaign to include digital print and radio advertisements and efforts to make the vaccine more available to residents with mobile clinics, pop-up vaccine tents and by providing transit to vaccine providers.

Ernst Pharmacy on Highland Boulevard in Natchez was one of the participants in this effort.

On Wednesday last week, Ernst Pharmacy vaccinated more than 130 people in a single day. That number was consistent with the week prior, local pharmacist Larry McManus said.

Daily vaccine doses administered there are holding steady at a much higher rate than when the vaccine first became available there less than two months ago, he said.

“Before then, it was only offered at the health department and other state sites,” McManus said. “The first week or two there wasn’t too many, maybe eight or 10 people a day, and lately it has been a good many. I think people are more worried because this round people are pretty sick and a lot of people are dying (with COVID). … In the last two or three weeks there have been a pretty good number of people coming in to inquire about the vaccines.”

The pharmacy has recently upped its vaccination game by offering the vaccine on weekdays during normal businesses hours between 8 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. with no appointment needed. However, the brand of vaccine available may be limited on certain days at Ernst. The Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines are typically available on Wednesdays and the Pfizer vaccine is available during the week, McManus said. This is to prevent wasting doses because some valves carry more of the vaccine than others, he said.

“When people call ahead, we try to get them in on Wednesday,” he said. “We don’t ask for appointments. The wait time is usually 10 to 15 minutes at the most.”

McManus said the pharmacy is also offering third shots of the Moderna and Pfizer vaccine to immune compromised individuals. Those who ask for a third shot, or booster shot, have to fill out paperwork or are sometimes referred by a doctor, he said.

“We’re just trying to do whatever we can to help fight this virus like everyone else,” he said.

Mississippi State Department of Health sites are currently not offering third doses. However, MSDH officials said for those with immune-compromising medical conditions such as cancer treatment or organ transplants, “an additional dose of COVID-19 vaccine may provide added protection if your doctor finds it necessary.”

MSDH recommends anyone with a medical condition that may affect their immune system consult a physician or medical provider to determine whether they might benefit from a booster shot.