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Mississippi officials block COVID vaccine misinformation

Fitness & Health:

The Mississippi State Department of Health is now blocking comments on its Facebook posts that relate to COVID-19 because of a “rise of misinformation” about the virus and vaccinations

“The comments section of our Facebook page has increasingly come to be dominated by misinformation about COVID-19,” state health department spokesperson Liz Sharlot said in a statement.

Sharlot said allowing the comments that “mislead the public about the safety, importance and effectiveness of vaccination” is “directly contrary” to the state’s public health mission, which includes encouraging members of the public to be vaccinated against the virus, which has been recently making a resurgence in the state.

Only about 31% of Mississippians have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, a statistic that ranks near the bottom of U.S. states.

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Mississippi health officials announced on Friday that they are recommending that people 65 and older and those with chronic underlying medical conditions refrain from attending indoor mass social gatherings in the coming weeks because of a rising number of coronavirus cases in the state.

They advised that vulnerable people should avoid indoor mass gatherings whether or not they are vaccinated, through at least July 26, and that people who are not vaccinated should wear a mask when in public settings.

State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs cited a sharp increase in cases of the highly contagious delta variant, which is now the predominant strain of COVID-19 in the state.

On June 21, 91 people were hospitalized with COVID-19 in Mississippi. On Sunday, that number had risen to 228 people, according to health officials.

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Leah Willingham is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.

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