Clarksdale, Miss. (AP) – 75-year-old Eola Moore has never questioned whether she wants to get the COVID-19 vaccine when it becomes available. The task was to get the vaccine.
For other adults who depend on Clarksdale Murray և’s home, a rural community that does not have strong public transportation, getting anywhere can be a challenge. Buying food, going to the laundry or doctor’s appointments.
And although people over 75 in Mississippi were eligible for vaccinations for four months, it was only on Wednesday that Moore finally got his ball.
He was one of 80 adults to be vaccinated as part of the state’s first mobile vaccination event. Participants were picked up by bus at nursing homes or in their homes and sent to a community health center.
“I loved it, quick and easy,” Moore said as he walked down the hallway of Aaron Henry Community Health Center after being shot by his John Onson and John Onson, who had a bandage on his arm. “I’m ready to go back and get another one.”
More than half a million people are now fully vaccinated in Mississippi, a state with a population of about 3 million. At least 45% of them are people 65 and older.
But despite tremendous progress, vaccinations for older adults are slowing, according to the federal government. Mississippi is looking for creative ways to bridge vaccination gaps and reach vulnerable communities.
“We know there are a subset of older people who are less mobile and may have transportation problems,” said Dr. Thomas Dobbs, Mississippi State Health Officer, on Friday. He said the Department of Health was launching an “aggressive push” in the 18 weakest vaccinated countries, all of which have high levels of poverty.
“We’re going to hit those guys really hard, we’re going to do door-to-door, Saturday clinics, things like that,” Dobbs said.
Danny Blunton, a spokesman for the Department of Human Services, said places like Clarksdale were especially accessible as the state focused on vaccinating minorities, the elderly, and the two groups disproportionately affected by the virus. The city is more than 80%!
Older adults face barriers because they are isolated, says Emily Meredith, Clarksdale Senior Center և Adult Day Care Rev. Director of SLA Jones Activity Center.
“Many of them are not going anywhere, they are not using social media, they do not know where these vaccine sites are going or how to get there,” Meredith said. “They really need us to go to them.”
The state cooperated with the North Delta Regional Agency և Rev. With SLA Jones Business Center, which provides free services to people over 60: older, regardless of income.
The center, located next to low-income nursing homes, has been closed for months due to the epidemic, but staff have been in close contact with residents, providing weekly meals, care packages, water, toilets and napkins to those who can reach the store.
These connections made it easier for residents to get vaccinated. Staff members called each client individually, stopping to drop paper on the vaccine.
On Wednesday, 74-year-old Linda Busby walked nervously to the examination room. Before the nurse hit him, he squeezed her leg and looked away.
He said he was afraid to take the vaccine. But when it was all over, he was glad he did.
Busby said he had been home alone for the past year with his white cat, Baby. He missed being able to go to the center every day to spend time with other residents.
Many residents said they were excited to get the vaccine so they could communicate again.
The center reopened last week. “Social distance masks are still required, but vaccinations provide an additional safety net,” Meredith said.
Prime Minister Brower, 88, said that before the epidemic, he used to come to the center every day to play dominoes or bingo with his beloved.
The highlight of his weekend was driving to Captain D to get another lobster restaurant. He was unable to visit with other elderly people or anyone in the community.
“I can do nothing else,” he said. “I just touch people, I do not stop.”
At a colorful table set with three other women sitting at a colorful table on Wednesday, she said she looked forward to playing bingo again. “It is really nice for all of us to be here,” he said. “I can’t say enough.”
Leah Willingham is a member of the Associated Press / Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a national nonprofit program that places journalists in local newsrooms to cover hidden issues.