Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves announced all adults in the state are eligible for a Covid-19 vaccine starting Tuesday.
(CN) — All adults in Mississippi will be eligible to receive a Covid-19 vaccine beginning Tuesday, the state’s governor said in a tweet Monday.
“Starting tomorrow, ALL new appointments will be open to ALL Mississippians,” Governor Tate Reeves wrote. “Get your shot friends — and let’s get back to normal!”
Before the Republican governor’s announcement, Mississippi’s vaccines were available to teachers, first responders, adults aged 50 and older and younger people with chronic health conditions including diabetes, Down syndrome, cancer and arterial diseases.
The change in policy may help curb the spread of Covid-19 in a state that has seen almost 301,000 cases, more than 6,900 deaths and just shy of 330,000 of adults — slightly more than a tenth of the state’s population — fully vaccinated.
In a primetime TV address delivered last week, President Joe Biden asked all state governments to open Covid-19 vaccinations to all adults by May 1.
Tate’s announcement arrives just two weeks after he rolled back the Southern state’s mask mandate, which had been implemented last August after the governor had imposed, lifted and reimposed similar mandates on a county-by-county basis.
“Starting tomorrow, we are lifting all of our county mask mandates and businesses will be able to operate at full capacity without any state-imposed rules,” Tate tweeted on March 2. “Our hospitalizations and case numbers have plummeted, and the vaccine is being rapidly distributed. It is time!”
Most states in the U.S. have officially rolled out vaccines only to adults meeting certain criteria, such as a minimum age requirement or employment in such sectors as health care and education. Mississippi and Alaska are currently the only two states that have announced that anybody 16 or older can receive the vaccine.
Vaccine providers in some states, such as Texas, are not permitted to require those getting the shot to provide medical documents or other records that verify they meet the state’s posted requirements for receiving a vaccine. As a result, many are skipping the line by signing up for vaccine appointments before they are officially eligible.
All three vaccines that have received emergency authorization for use in the U.S. — produced by Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson — are not approved for young children. The Pfizer-manufactured vaccine can be used by 16- and 17-year-olds, and the other two vaccines are only available to people aged 18 and up.
In the tweet, Tate encouraged Mississippians older than 50 to book an appointment as soon as they can, saying that “almost 10,000 appointments” were available across the state over the coming three weeks.
The state hosts drive-thru vaccination sites, and private pharmacies and clinics are also providing vaccines to Mississippians.