JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves received the coronavirus vaccine Wednesday on a video streamed to Facebook Live. The Republican governor said he wanted to take the vaccine publicly to demonstrate his “confidence in its safety and efficacy.”
“We've heard from a lot of Mississippians who are concerned about taking the vaccine and what we've tried to do, over the last several weeks, is remove roadblocks,” Reeves said, standing in the governor's mansion in Jackson with State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs.
Reeves, 46, said he doesn't want there to be any doubt that he supports the vaccine.
“We've heard, ‘If the governor won’t take it, I won't take it,'” Reeves said. “The reality is, it's time."
Wearing a face covering depicting the American flag, Reeves sat in a chair while a nurse administered the shot. He did not say what type of vaccine he received — Pfizer's, developed with Germany’s BioNTech, or Moderna, developed with U.S. National Institutes of Health.
“I’m not a great patient, and so I don’t love shots," he joked. "But I know that this is the thing to do, and it’s going to help protect me, but also help protect our loved ones.”
As of Wednesday, the coronavirus vaccine is available in Mississippi for health care workers, people living in long-term care facilities, those 65 and older and individuals with health conditions.
Mississippi set up drive-thru sites for vaccinations across the state. The vaccine is also available at some private clinics. People eligible to receive the coronavirus vaccine can make an appointment at COVIDvaccine.umc.edu or by calling the COVID-19 call center at 1-877-978-6453.
The state Health Department reported Wednesday that Mississippi had 1,942 new confirmed cases of the virus as of Tuesday evening. The department also reported 31 deaths Wednesday. The state has reported nearly 243,899 cases of the virus and 5,315 related deaths since the start of the pandemic.
Dobbs said the virus is still taking the lives of many Mississippians. He said during a media briefing Tuesday that he had lost several friends in the past week because of coronavirus complications.
A member of Mississippi's state Board of Health, Dr. Ed Dalton Barham died of COVID-19 complications Saturday, according to an obituary. He was 79.
Barham, known as Tad or Taddy, had served on the board since 2012, after being appointed by former Gov. Phil Bryant. He was elected chairman in 2017.
“He felt it was a privilege and an honor to serve in a leadership position to help promote public health in Mississippi,” his family wrote in his obituary.
Barham was a graduate of Mississippi College and George Washington School of Medicine. He served in the U.S. Army at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, reaching the rank of lieutenant colonel.
Barham, of Clinton, served as chief of radiology at Doctor’s Hospital, the V.A. Medical Center, River Oaks Hospital and Woman’s Hospital in Mississippi. He practiced the majority of his professional life — over 35 years — at Woman’s Hospital, according to his family.