Thousands of appointments go unused in Mississippi as public health officials work to convince skeptics on vaccines

Coronavirus Vaccine

(NewsNation Now) —The latest concerns over the Johnson and Johnson vaccine could come as a big blow to an already uphill battle, convincing skeptical Americans COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective.

In Mississippi, more than 87,000 coronavirus vaccine appointments sit unclaimed.

“I think that people here in Mississippi are really leery,” said political activist Pam Chatman.

Chatman’s company shuttles residents in Mississippi’s rural delta region to mass vaccination sites.

Vaccine hesitancy is abundant in the Magnolia state, now potentially magnified by the recent announcement of concerns over the Johnson and Johnson shot.

Chatman says what fuels the state’s lagging metrics is twofold, skepticism over the shots’ efficacy and accessibility.

“There’s a lot of people here in rural Mississippi who don’t have transportation, and don’t have internet to register to get the vaccination,” stated Chatman.

Which is why the Johnson and Johnson shot being one and done enticed so many.

Chatman worries those who were considering taking it will now forego being vaccinated altogether.

Mississippi’s State Health Department trying to ease those concerns.

“We’re talking about a rare complication related to one of the three vaccines that we have and then the relative risk even with this horrible complication is still lower than the risk of death from COVID-19,” a health department spokesperson said at a news conference.

Today in the state’s capital, the view is a stark contrast to some of the long lines we’ve seen in other cities.

Short wait times had cars in and out at the ballpark housing a public mass vaccination site.

The National Guard manages the state’s 20 hubs which are overseen by LT. Col Jeremy Parker.

“If we would all come together and get the vaccine and get our percent up. We could put this pandemic behind us and the way it’s been affected our lives for the last year,” said Lt Col Jeremy Parker.

Mississippi isn’t alone in the struggle to reach herd immunity.

Tennessee, Arkansas, Alabama and Georgia are all also grappling with low vaccination rates.

“Mayors, board of supervisors, people in the faith-based leaders. Basically any tool that’s available to encourage people to come out and get the vaccine we’re trying to leverage,” added Parker.

As research begins into what caused those blood clots in the six women who took the Johnson and Johnson shot, It’s a waiting game to see how far reaching the long term implications are.

I think it’s a bit early to know what type of impact this may have on hesitancy. It’s going to be something we have to wait and see what the final recommendations are from the CDC, said State Epidemiologist Dr. Paul Byers.

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