Mississippi is one of three states that have expanded coronavirus vaccine eligibility to anyone 16 and older, and a CNN analysis finds that more than a dozen more plan to open up to people 16 and older for end of April.
McGee, who lives in Columbus, Mississippi, decided not to waste time last week.
At 7 a.m. the next morning, the college student was on the phone with the Mississippi State Department of Health to schedule an appointment. After some trouble scheduling an appointment over the phone, she said she got an appointment online for 9:20 a.m. at a Lowndes County vehicle access site.
It took McGee only 20 minutes to get vaccinated. At 9:40 a.m., he was one of the youngest people in Mississippi to have been immunized with a dose of the Pfizer / BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine.
The Pfizer / BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine is licensed in the United States for ages 16 and older, and Johnson & Johnson’s Modern Covid-19 vaccine and Covid-19 vaccine are licensed for adults 18 years of age and older.
Alaska was the first state in the US to stop prioritizing certain groups for Covid-19 vaccines and to open vaccination appointments for all people over the age of 16 living or working in the state.
McGee said he was surprised his state was the second, after Alaska, to open vaccines to anyone 16 and older to the general public.
“There are a lot of negative stereotypes about the state, and I think some of them are for good reason: the state’s access to health care, the state’s poverty rate, its history of racism are all negative things that exist to this day. from today”. McGee told CNN. “But expanding eligibility for this vaccine, I think, is something Mississippi can be celebrated for.”
A CNN analysis of state health departments found that eligibility for Covid-19 vaccination is anticipated to open to people 16 years of age and older in certain states on the following schedule:
- March 24: Utah and state-run sites in select Arizona counties
- March 25: Georgia
- March 29: Oklahoma, Texas, Ohio, North Dakota
- April 1: Montana
- April 5: Connecticut, Michigan, Tennessee
- April 9: Missouri
- April 12: Illinois
- April 19: Maine, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island
- April 26: Idaho
- April 27: Maryland
- April, no date set: New Mexico, Virginia, Iowa
- May 1: Wisconsin, Oregon, South Dakota
- May 3: South Carolina
- May or later: California, Nebraska, Kansas, Hawaii, New Hampshire, Delaware
Connecticut and other states have employed a gradual rollout of Covid-19 vaccines due to “limited supply of vaccines relative to demand,” Maura Fitzgerald, spokeswoman for the Connecticut Department of Public Health, told CNN in an email on Monday.
“We started with frontline healthcare workers and long-term care facility residents / staff, then we worked our way back through the age brackets, starting with our residents who were 75 years of age or older.” Fitzgerald said, adding that last Friday the state opened vaccines for adults 45 and older and announced that those 16 and older would be eligible on April 5.
“However, with the increase in the federal government’s vaccine supply and the efficiency with which our vaccine providers are receiving gun injections, we were able to accelerate our launch,” Fitzgerald said.
Tom Hudachko, a spokesman for the Utah Department of Health, told CNN in an email on Tuesday that when demand begins to decline in priority groups, based on information from vaccine providers in terms of available appointments, eligibility will drop. opens to additional populations. .
“Last week, some of our providers reported that up to 15% of their appointments were available this week, so we made the decision to open eligibility to over 16s,” Hudachko said. “We also anticipate an increase in supply in the coming weeks, so that was taken into account as well.”
Why there is ‘variability’ in eligibility between states
There is variability in which states offer vaccines to all 16-year-olds and older, and where groups are still prioritized, because there are state-by-state differences in supply and demand.
“There is variability in how quickly states have opened up their eligibility and some of that has to do with supply,” Plescia said.
For example, Plescia said that in some areas of the Southeast, demand appears not to be as strong, so some of those southern states may open vaccines to everyone 16 and older more quickly than other states in the Northeast or the United States. West Coast. where there is still a lot of demand.
“Some states have wanted to be more thorough to get to a significant proportion of each group before opening it up to more groups,” Plescia said.
“So I think in some states they could spend some time outreach to, say, people over 65 before they open up more broadly,” he said. “While I think there are some states where they have opened it and the lawsuits will stick with that group, but once the demand starts to wane, instead of going out and really trying to recruit more people, they just do it. we are opening “.
“In most states, it seems we have the capacity to deliver the vaccine. Actually, it’s just a supply issue,” Plescia said. “I suppose in most states, the response to the Biden administration’s goal has been basically, ‘Okay, get us an ample supply where we can meet the needs and we’ll be ready to go.’ So I think ultimately , that will be the deciding factor in whether we really have, not an unlimited supply, but a significantly larger supply where you can open it up and know that you are not going to run out of vaccine.
Meanwhile, McGee applauds his state of Mississippi for opening vaccines to the general public and told CNN he is optimistic that President Joe Biden’s hope that all adults are vaccinated by May 1 will become a reality.
“I think everything is pointing in the right direction,” he said.
‘The offer has fueled this whole conversation’
“The offer has fueled this whole conversation,” Benjamin said.
“The reason for prioritizing in the first place was because we knew the supply would be tight at first, and then of course there was a desire to deal with health inequities, so those two things, to some extent, drove the establishment of priorities, “he said. “At the end of the day, the goal is to vaccinate everyone and we must leave no stone unturned.”
Now, with Biden’s goal of opening vaccines to everyone 16 and older by May 1, Benjamin said he anticipates more states will expand eligibility in the coming days.
“I think they will continue to see the states open up, trying to get ahead of that date, but it will totally depend on the vaccine supply,” Benjamin said.