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State Health Officer: No link between politics, vaccine hesitancy

JACKSON (AP) — Mississippi’s top health official said he does not think political party affiliation has an impact on people’s willingness to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs said he talks with equal numbers of Democrats and Republicans who are unsure about getting vaccinated.

What he does see making a difference: socio-economic status and education.

“It seems to be that folks who are more educated and have higher incomes are way more likely to want to get it,” Dobbs said Friday during an online conversation hosted by the Mississippi State Medical Association. “… If you’re in the top income bracket, and you’re in the top education bracket, you’re like 95 percent going to get vaccinated.”

There are many factors that could impact whether a person has vaccine access: lack of transportation, a prohibitive work schedule, no available childcare. All of those issues are more likely to impact poorer Mississippians.

Dobbs said recently that the state Health Department is beginning “an aggressive push” in the 18 most under-vaccinated counties, all of which have high poverty levels. He says they are planning pop-up vaccination events and mobile clinics, as well as to go door-to-door with vaccination information.

More than 1.5 million total doses of coronavirus vaccine have been given out to residents in Mississippi, according to data from the Department of Health. More than 670,000 people are fully vaccinated in the state, which has a population of around 3 million.