Choctaw Regional Medical Center among rural hospitals facing unique challenges of COVID-19 vaccine distribution

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ACKERMAN, MISS. (WCBI) – As some Mississippi healthcare workers got their second dose of the coronavirus vaccine during the first week of January, others were still waiting on their first.

The staff at Choctaw Regional Medical Center has had to wait a little longer for the vaccine but they say that kind of thing comes with the territory when working in rural healthcare.

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“[People] are asking us, ‘When can we have the vaccine?’ and we’re trying to guide them through that, help them understand the process,” says Mike Summers, the administrative executive director 

Healthcare workers at the Akerman hospital just recently started getting the doses themselves after the Mississippi State Department of Health started shipping out the vaccine in mid December.

“We are a rural healthcare provider,” Summers says. “We are used to rural healthcare provider barriers and we face those as their come. We have not experience any unnecessary delays or anything of that regard as to getting the vaccine.”

The hospital received their first 100 doses of the Moderna vaccine for their staff last week and the doses that will be available for the public arrived there this week.

Summers says Choctaw Regional has exclusively received doses of the Moderna vaccine.

“The Moderna vaccine is a little more stable as far as, in rural areas. It doesn’t have to be kept at such a cold temperature, so areas like ours where we are very rural, the Moderna vaccine works a lot better.”

Summers says the hospital has plenty of doses of the vaccine to meet the needs of their community that include those who are 75 or older, first responders, teachers and childcare workers.

“The Mississippi State Department of Health, they are distributing vaccines based on population need so we have plenty of vaccines available here and at the clinics to administer to our population,” he says. 

Despite the wait, Summers says Choctaw Regional is on schedule with the recommendations of the Mississippi State Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“We have it. We’re prepared to administer it appropriately and look forward to taking care of all the people in Choctaw and the surrounding counties,” he says.

Choctaw Regional medical staff will be administering those vaccines to people who qualify staring next week at both the Choctaw and Louisville Medical Clinics. Vaccinations are by appointment only.

To schedule an appointment, those interested can call the Choctaw Medical Clinic at 662-285-9460 or the Louisville Medical Clinic at 662-773-7500.