Mississippi COVID-19 Death Rates Highest In U.S.; Booster Shots Available for Many | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Mississippi COVID-19 Death Rates Highest In U.S.; Booster Shots Available for Many

Mississippi now leads the country in highest deaths per capita at more than 306 deaths per 100,000. In addition to having the highest death rate in the country, the state also nears the top of the entire world in deaths per capita at No. 2. Photo courtesy Fusion Medical Animation on Unsplash

Mississippi now leads the country in highest deaths per capita at more than 306 deaths per 100,000. In addition to having the highest death rate in the country, the state also nears the top of the entire world in deaths per capita at No. 2. Photo courtesy Fusion Medical Animation on Unsplash

Even as Mississippi’s COVID-19 infection rates are beginning to slightly decrease from the midsummer high, the state now leads not only the country but almost the entire world in deaths per capita, as Ashton Pittman first reported in the Mississippi Free Press Tuesday.

The United States saw more than 4 million new COVID-19 cases in the past 28 days with upwards of 43,000 deaths, leading to a rate of 203 deaths per 100,000 population. In world rankings, this means the U.S. is 22nd in deaths per capita. If U.S. states were counted as countries, however, Mississippi would be at No. 2 on this list at more than 306 deaths per 100,000 population, trailing only the country of Peru.

“We're still seeing quite a number of COVID cases in the state of Mississippi,” State Health Officer Thomas Dobbs said in yesterday’s Mississippi State Department of Health press briefing. “We're recording well over 2,500 a day in recent days, far more than we'd like to see.”

The rise of the COVID-19 delta variant in combination with Mississippi’s trailing vaccination rates have meant that Mississippians have suffered 9,214 deaths from the virus with 473,413 cases as of today’s MSDH report. Today’s report included 2,321 additional cases along with 49 deaths. Long-term care facilities remain hotbeds for COVID-19, with 113 current outbreaks across the state.

After what appeared to be a promising start to state vaccination rates in early 2021, rates trailed off and now stand at 41% vaccination, with Mississippi still among the least vaccinated states in the U.S.

The summer spike also put tremendous pressure on the state’s medical infrastructure, leading to requests for out-of-state health-care workers to help run field hospitals as the University of Mississippi Medical Center struggled with an influx of patients in urgent need of care.

Booster Shots Available For Those Qualified

MSDH now allows for those qualified to schedule their third dose of Pfizer or Moderna shot, also known as a booster shot.

“You can now schedule a third COVID-19 vaccination directly from county health departments if you have a qualifying health condition,” MSDH said in a statement via Twitter this morning. “An extra vaccine dose can improve your protection against COVID-19.”

Qualifying conditions include any that compromise the immune system, including cancer treatment, organ transplants or high-dose steroid regimens. In addition, anyone wishing to get a booster shot must be fully vaccinated with both previous doses as well as waiting at least 28 days after receiving their last dose to schedule the booster shot.

More information is available at MSDH’s website here, while booster shot scheduling is available here.

MSDH guidance recommends continued prevention measures for at-risk individuals even after receiving a booster shot.

“It is important to reinforce the need for continued prevention measures among immunocompromised individuals,” MSDH guidance reads. “People who are immunocompromised, including those who receive an additional mRNA COVID-19 vaccine after the initial 2-dose series, should continue to wear a mask in indoor public areas, avoid crowds and poorly ventilated indoor areas, and continue to stay 6 feet apart from people they don’t live with.”

Email Reporting Fellow Julian Mills at [email protected].

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