Hattiesburg and MSDH Collaborate to Expand Access to Testing + Vaccines

Hattiesburg and MSDH Collaborate to Expand Access to Testing + Vaccines

Hattiesburg, Mississippi – As another layer of collaboration for Hattiesburg’s response to COVID-19, the City of Hattiesburg and the Hattiesburg Convention Commission are working with the Mississippi Department of Health to host a free testing/vaccination site at Lake Terrace Convention Center (1 Convention Center Plaza).

“From the outset of this pandemic, one of our chief strategies was to ensure testing capacity for all who needed it,” said Mayor Toby Barker. “We are proud of how fast our health care community responded to that need and of the partnership that spurred a free testing site at CE Roy Community Center. Building on that, we’re grateful for the collaborative spirit to expand our partnership with the MS State Department of Health and the Hattiesburg Convention Commission to host a dual purpose site for testing and vaccinations.”

Free drive-thru testing at Lake Terrace Convention Center occurs on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, until further notice. It can be scheduled through covidschedule.umc.edu. The free testing site at CE Roy Community Center (300 E 5th Street) will also continue operating from 8-12 on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, until further notice.

Beginning January 5, the MSDH will also use the Lake Terrace Convention Center site to administer vaccines to those allocated for receipt through Mississippi’s phased distribution plan. Current eligible groups are workers in healthcare settings, paid or unpaid, who have not already been vaccinated through their employer, as well as paramedics and EMTs. Vaccinations will occur on Tuesdays and Fridays. 

While appointments through January 15 are already full. The next available vaccination slots at Lake Terrace are available Tuesday, January 19 and Friday, January 22. Additional appointments could also be added as vaccine supplies increase.

Those healthcare workers and EMTs/paramedics wishing to be vaccinated can schedule an appointment on a registration basis through covidvaccine.umc.edu. Additional schedules for when and who will be able to register for vaccine distribution is forthcoming from MSDH.

According to the MSDH Web site, healthcare workers include “nurses, physicians, emergency medical services, technicians, pharmacists, dietary and food staff, environmental services staff and others.” Eligible healthcare settings include acute care facilities, long-term acute care facilities, inpatient rehabilitation facilities, nursing homes, assisted living facilities, home health care, mobile clinics and outpatient facilities such as physicians’ offices.

“With the arrival of a vaccine, we are now seeing a light at the end of the tunnel in our fight against COVID-19. However, we know it will take time to distribute that vaccine,” added Barker. “We also know that our infection numbers and hospitalizations are at alarmingly high levels. It is critical that all people, particularly those in or around at-risk populations, continue to wear masks, practice social distancing and avoid unnecessary gatherings. These are critical months ahead.”

Lake Terrace Convention Center was identified as an ideal space due to its parking lot being able to accommodate drive-thru services with ease. Additionally, what has been used as the Hattiesburg Visitor’s Center will be repurposed for the storage of supplies and materials – including vaccines that need to be brought to room temperature before distribution. 

“Over the last nine months, we’ve all learned how to accommodate the growing changes in how to do business amid this pandemic – especially through our event venues,” said Rick Taylor, executive director of the Hattiesburg Convention Commission. “This is a critical point in our own history, and we’re grateful to serve by sharing this space to expand access to testing and vaccinations.”

To help accommodate the need for the storage of supplies and materials, the  VisitHATTIESBURG team is moving their office spaces to the Historic Hattiesburg Train Depot, located at 308 Bushman Street. Services provided from their new office space is effective February 1.

Barker added, “We’ve been working with VisitHATTIESBURG on their relocation for some time, and they have been incredibly accommodating to help make this happen. We’re excited for how they’ll continue to serve the many who come into our city each and every day in their new home.”

More details about the state’s vaccination plan can be accessed at healthyms.com/covid19. Scheduling can be accessed at covidschedule.umc.edu