Teachers and first responders next in line for vaccine, officials say, though timing is unclear

Published 7:44 am Thursday, February 4, 2021

Officials said Monday they cannot say when teachers and first responders will be eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, but they are next in line.

“I do believe our teachers and first responders are currently slated to go next,” said Gov. Tate Reeves, noting that the current group receiving vaccines contains the most vulnerable individuals.

Reeves went on to say that currently, the “demand far exceeds the supply” and that there is no way to estimate how long the current phase will last before more Mississippians, including teachers, become eligible.

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Despite an original model from the Mississippi Department of Health that included teachers alongside individuals over 65-years-old, other essential workers, and those with certain pre-existing medical conditions, the vaccine is currently only available to health care workers, those above 65 and those with certain conditions in Mississippi.

Health care workers and long-term care residents and staff were the first to become eligible to take the vaccine in early January.

Some or all teachers are eligible to receive the coronavirus vaccine in at least 25 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, according to an Education Week analysis of official government communications and websites.

The state health department reports more than 200,000 Mississippians, or about 7% of the state’s population, have received their first dose of the vaccine as of Feb. 1.

Health experts, including State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs, have continually cautioned that vaccine rollout depends completely on the allotment of vaccines the state receives from the federal government.

“It’s unpredictable and limited,” Dobbs said of the state’s vaccine supply in a Jan. 22 video interview with LouAnn Woodward, vice chancellor at the University of Mississippi Medical Center.

This story is republished with the permission of Mississippi Today