Each week, the federal government allocates vaccine to Mississippi for the following week. The state is then responsible for deciding who will receive the available vaccine.
To help the Mississippi State Department of Health make this decision each week, local health care facilities and pharmacies request the amount of vaccine that they would like to receive. The state looks at those requests and the amount of vaccine coming from the federal government and decides how to divide up the vaccine. Bolivar County Public Health is also able to provide input on which clinics are a priority for receiving vaccine.
The requests for vaccine are always greater than the amount of vaccine the state has available.
Local health care facilities and pharmacies typically find out a few days later how much vaccine they can expect (it may be less than what they asked for) or if their order will not be filled at all. Then, a couple of days after that, they receive their vaccine.
Because facilities don’t always know how much vaccine they’re getting, they may not book appointments too far in advance. They want to ensure they have the vaccine before scheduling you for an appointment. Sometimes, if the expected vaccine order isn’t filled, a facility may have to cancel or reschedule appointments.
Once the vaccine arrives, facilities get to work administering vaccine! Facilities have a week to get the vaccine in the arms of people who are eligible to be vaccinated.
The state Department of Health is also working hard to ensure that vaccine is available for second doses. Each week, vaccine is allocated to facilities to match the number of doses given the prior three (for Pfizer) or four (for Moderna) weeks. This ensures the facilities have adequate supply for second doses.
The limited vaccine supply and the unpredictable nature of the shipments make it challenging for facilities to plan and administer vaccine. But as supply increases and the amount of vaccine being shipped to states (and then distributed to facilities) becomes more predictable, we’ll see vaccine appointments more readily available.