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Reeves: Goal is to up vaccine capacity to 100,000 per week

JACKSON (AP) — Gov. Tate Reeves said he wants to increase coronavirus vaccinations rapidly in the month of February, ramping up the state’s capacity for weekly inoculations to around 100,000.

“We have to double the capacity of our state-run sites over the next nine days,” the governor said Thursday.

The state has completed 194,597 total first doses and 21,941 second doses for residents by using 19 state-run drive-thru facilities, hospitals and clinics. Under Reeves’ plan, vaccinations would drastically increase.

Reeves said the state has received around 37,000 doses a week for the past three weeks from the federal government. Next week, that allocation is set to increase to 43,000. Officials are also in the process of redistributing some of the unused vaccine doses that were originally allocated to long-term care facilities.

This week, the state is scheduled to complete 30,000 first-dose vaccination appointments at the drive-thru sites. Next week, it’s hoping to do 30,000 first doses and 17,000 second doses at those sites.

Vaccinations in Mississippi are currently available for those 65 and older, health care workers and those who are at least 16 and have health conditions that might make them more vulnerable to the virus.

State Epidemiologist Dr. Paul Byers said Thursday that approximately 2 percent of Mississippi’s 65 and older population and 30 percent of the state’s 75 and older population have received at least one dose of coronavirus vaccine.

Mississippi has a population of around 3 million.

The department reported Thursday that Mississippi had 1,804 new confirmed cases of the virus as of Wednesday evening. The department also reported 28 deaths Thursday, 24 of which happened between Dec. 6 and Wednesday. The state has reported about 270,476 cases of the virus and 5,945 related deaths since the start of the pandemic.

People eligible to receive the coronavirus vaccine can try to make an appointment at COVIDvaccine.umc.edu or by calling the COVID-19 call center at 1-877-978-6453.