Tribe receives 425 doses of vaccine

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Frontline workers with the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians received the first dose of the new Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine last week as part of a Phase 1 rollout. 

The Tribe received 425 doses of the vaccine by an Indian Health Services representative last Wednesday evening. Those receiving doses in Phase 1 are healthcare workers, first responders, long-term care facility staff, and elders with underlying conditions.

“As we receive this first wave of vaccine, I want us to remember all those we have lost to COVID,” Tribal Chief Cyrus Ben said. “This first batch of vaccine will be provided to health personnel working on the frontline of the pandemic. Soon all our Tribal members will receive this vaccine. May this be the first step in the healing and wellness of our people from this disease and global pandemic.”

According to the Tribe, over one-third of the employees at Choctaw Health Center agreed to take the vaccine. Employees are not required to receive it.

“CHC is committed to providing workforce members accurate information to help them decide whether and when to receive a COVID-19 vaccine,” said CHC Director Mary Harrison. “It is exciting to have the vaccine at Choctaw Health Center and have this added protection offered to our frontline employees.”

The arrival of the vaccine comes at a time when COVID-19 cases continue to rise on the Reservation, as well as throughout Neshoba County. 

The Tribe had 51 new COVID-19 cases within the last week compared to 27 new cases the week before, and 18 cases the week before that. In total, 1,432 Tribal members have tested positive for COVID-19. The Tribe has reported 89 deaths from the virus, with four current hospitalizations. 

In Neshoba County, the total number of new cases in the last three weeks represents over 20 percent of the total cases since the virus first hit back in the spring. 

Within the last week, there were 173 new cases reported, bringing the total here to 2,787.

There were an additional two deaths in the last week, bringing the total here to 134.  

The Mississippi State Department of Health had not released an updated school report as of Tuesday morning. 

According to the last report, in total, Neshoba Central Elementary has reported 21 cases among students and 15 among faculty/staff since school began. Neshoba Central Middle School has reported 21 cases among students and six among faculty/staff. Neshoba Central High School has reported 39 total student cases and 11 among faculty/staff. 

Philadelphia Elementary School has reported 11 total student cases since school began, with eight among faculty/staff. Philadelphia High School has reported 19 total student cases and 1-5 amongst faculty/staff.

Statewide, hospitalizations are at an all-time high at 1,257 as the numbers continue to rise each week. Patients in the ICU increased from 224 on Nov. 23, to 326 on Dec. 20. 

Neshoba County is among over half the counties in the state under a mandatory mask ordinance by Gov. Tate Reeves that remains in effect until Jan. 15, 2021.


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