Mississippi’s physicians turn into social media lobbyists to encourage COVID-19 vaccinations

Published 5:23 pm Thursday, July 22, 2021

With new cases of the COVID-19 coronavirus rapidly rising and a growing number of patients with the virus filling the state’s hospitals, a growing number of Mississippi physicians are turning to social media to lobby, even beg unvaccinated citizens to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

Jackson area physician Justin Turner said some patients who didn’t choose to get vaccinated earlier have now found themselves terribly ill with COVID-19.

“Mississippi, the 4th wave is here,” he wrote. “I have a patient struggling now. They decided to get the vaccine months after our last counseling session. They got diagnosed a couple days after reaching out to us saying they’re finally ready to get it before they could get vaccinated. They’re now fighting for their life.”

Mississippi’s case number are climbing to levels not seen since February, just after the records were set in January. On Thursday Mississippi reported just under 1,200 new cases in a 24-hour period.

The number of Mississippians hospitalized with COVID is also at new multi-month records, the state reports. On Wednesday more than 500 Mississippians were hospitalized with either confirmed or suspected COVID.

State public health officials say the combination of a low number of Mississippians fully vaccinated and a much more contagious Delta variant are to blame.

The rapid case growth has sparked much concern for a number of parents and educators as the start of a new school year is just around the corner and currently, children under 12 cannot be vaccinated. But doctors say if enough adults get vaccinated it could help curb the spread and make it safer for children as well.

“Please, if you are not vaccinated make your plan now,” wrote Dr. Anita Henderson, president of the Mississippi Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics and a Hattiesburg pediatrician. “Talk with YOUR doctor. Don’t wait till it’s too late. Our kids are depending on adults to do the right thing and #PutKidsFirst.”

Flowood physician Dr. Jennifer Bryan and a member of the Mississippi State Medical Association’s board of trustees wrote on a long post on Facebook detailing her thoughts.

“The ‘heroes’ are tired. Public health laws have been in existence since the 1700s, and this is not a personal liberty argument no matter how much the television tells us it is,” she wrote. “Our healthcare system is once again facing the reality that we cannot take care of all the sick people and moreover we are all now physically exhausted and mentally drained with the rhetoric and the undermining of science.

“The vaccines are SAFE, effective, free and widely available. Period. If you really want to freak yourself out, read the list of anything that can happen when you take ANY prescription you pick up at the pharmacy. There is a small risk in all we do! Fly, drive, get struck by lightning, etc. The argument is really between what is a reasonable risk and what is an unacceptable risk like when others walk around with a virus that kills people and they breathe all over other vulnerable people who then potentially go and die.”

Bryan said the politicization over mask-wearing must and.

“As physicians, we wear surgical masks for literally hours on end in the operating room,” she wrote. “All of us have done this in our training. They do not hurt you. They are an inconvenience to some to save the lives of others. Are we really this spoiled that we shake our hands at the sky over this and DEMAND our rights for our kids to go unmasked? There is no mandate but no one has to make me send my kids to school masked this year. That’s my JOB as their MOM to keep them safe from harm.”

Bryan said Mississippians who chose to not get the vaccine should consider how their actions affect others.

“Honestly I wish it was just about ‘you’ and personal liberties. That would be so easy for everyone. You do you, and I’ll do me. That’s just not it though and the whole reason for the existence of public health officials. The people ‘you’ are killing and who ‘you’ are endangering is who ‘we’re’ most focused on and the children who are staring a deadly foe in the face with no armor on. They deserve the right to live freely in a world not threatening their daily lives with the virus ‘you’ spread.”