Vaccinations have been one key to slowing the spread of COVID-19 in America. On Monday, 145 Americans died of the disease, down from a rate of well over 2,000 a day at the start of the year. There were 12,874 new cases Monday, compared to a peak of over 200,000 a day. Nevertheless, the total 605,915 American deaths from the disease are 16% of the world’s total. America’s 33,611,037 total cases are 19% of the global figure.
While there are hopes that vaccines could nearly eradicate COVID-19, public health officials remain on guard for new variants, monitoring whether any of them are vaccine-resistant. The so-called delta variant, which has plagued India, recently has been detected in the United States. It spreads more aggressively than most others, if not all other variants. Fortunately, the Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines are effective against it, based on early tests.
The extent to which states have vaccinated their populations varies widely. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that, nationwide, 44% of Americans have been fully vaccinated. Among those 18 years old or older, the number rises to 54%. The state with the highest figure is Vermont at 73%.
One state lags substantially behind the national number. The percentage of people 18 and older who have been fully vaccinated in Mississippi is an extremely low 36%. This has led to concerns that, as the Delta variant spreads across the nation, Mississippi will post a sharp increase in new cases, and very probably fatal ones.
One primary reason vaccination rates are so low in Mississippi is “vaccine hesitancy.” In short, people refuse to be vaccinated for several reasons. The World Health Organization describes vaccine hesitancy as a “delay in acceptance or refusal of safe vaccines despite availability of vaccine services.” Reasons for this include lack of trust in the government and medical institutions, as well as worry that vaccines can cause crippling side effects. No matter what the reason, so long as this widely persists in Mississippi, it will continue to fall behind other states in its rate of vaccination.