Greenwood Leflore Hospital plans to be a place where people eligible for COVID-19 vaccination can come and get their shot.

But it can’t do that until it receives vaccines for community distribution. That hasn’t happened yet, and hospital officials say they have not been told when it might start.

“Greenwood Leflore Hospital continues to follow COVID-19 vaccination guidance provided by the Mississippi State Department of Health. At this time, we are only able to provide COVID-19 vaccinations to our employees. ... Greenwood Leflore Hospital is working on a community vaccination plan that will be implemented if and when we receive doses designated for our community,” the hospital said in a prepared statement released Wednesday..

The hospital was responding to a slew of calls it has received this week from people trying to line up appointments to be vaccinated. It is believed the calls were precipitated by a county-by-county list of “local vaccination providers” recently posted to the Department of Health’s website. The only entity listed in Leflore County was the hospital. There are no listings for Carroll County.

The Department of Health listing was premature, at least for the Greenwood hospital, as all the doses of the Moderna vaccine it has received are designated for those who work at the hospital.

So far, 464 employees, including contract workers, have received their first dose of the vaccine, according to Christine Hemphill, a hospital spokeswoman. That represents roughly half of the employees.

The first hospital employees to get vaccinated are scheduled to receive their second, booster dose beginning next Tuesday.

For now, the only places for Leflore County residents who are eligible for the free vaccine to get the shot are at drive-through locations being operated by the Health Department, including one on Browning Road in Greenwood. The Health Department will be giving shots there again on Thursday.

That location, however, is now booked up, as are the rest of the drive-through locations. On Wednesday afternoon, the Health Department stopped appointments, citing a “monumental surge” in requests after Gov. Tate Reeves significantly expanded on Tuesday who was eligible for vaccination.

Previously, the vaccines had been reserved for health care workers, people living in long-term care facilities and anyone 75 and older. Reeves lowered the age to 65 and added anyone between the ages of 16 and 64 with a qualifying chronic health condition that would put them at higher risk if they were to contract the disease.

That led to a dramatic increase in requests, and now all of the available vaccine is committed. The Health Department said it would allow new appointments to be made after the state receives its next shipment of vaccines, expected in mid-February.

Meanwhile, Greenwood Leflore Hospital is reporting that its intensive care unit specially equipped for treating COVID-19 patients is no longer full. As of Wednesday morning, the 14-bed unit was treating 12 patients, five of whom were on ventilators to help them breathe.

Contact Tim Kalich at 581-7243 or tkalich@gwcommonwealth.com.

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