State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs, right, listens as Gov. Tate Reeves discusses updated COVID-19 orders on Dec. 11. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

Gov. Tate Reeves, who has received broad public criticism in recent weeks over his COVID-19 response, asked his followers on social media to help him decide when he should get the vaccine.

“Interesting debate… I get endless posts from skeptics like ‘If you want us to take the vaccine, why won’t you take it?'” Reeves tweeted and posted on Facebook Tuesday morning. “I’m ready — but don’t want to be accused of cutting in line. What do you think is the better action by leaders? Show confidence or let others get access first?”

The first shipment of COVID-19 vaccines arrived in the state this week, and many leaders have volunteered to publicly take the vaccine to quell any doubts about the effectiveness or perceived dangers among Americans.

READ MORE: The first shipment of COVID-19 vaccines has arrived in Mississippi. What’s next?

While many people — including in Mississippi — doubt whether the vaccine is safe or effective, health experts and scientists have reiterated the vaccine is safe and has been subjected to comprehensive trials.

State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs, the top health official in Mississippi, became the first person in the state to take a vaccine on Monday. He and two other top Mississippi State Department of Health officials were inoculated in a public press conference.

COVID-19 spread continues to set new peaks both nationally and statewide. Health officials have warned that ICU capacity in Mississippi is “full and many hospitalizations on the way.”

Reeves, who is solely responsible for issuing statewide orders like mask mandates and crowd size limits, has received criticism in recent days for appearing at fundraisers and hosting Christmas parties, despite those events seemingly violating many of his own orders.

READ MORE: Partying in the pandemic: Gov. Reeves says mansion parties will adhere to COVID-19 orders.

Meanwhile, Dobbs and the health department have warned Mississippians to avoid holiday gatherings beyond closest family and to avoid any groups beyond school, work or “essential gatherings.”

Dobbs called the holidays a “perfect storm” for “explosive outbreaks” of COVID-19 and warned, “We will see deaths, absolutely, around holiday gatherings.” Health officials warn that Mississippi hospitals are overloaded with patients as pandemic cases spike to record levels.

In response, Reeves has said that his parties “allow us to send a message to the people of Mississippi that you can return to life as somewhat normal, but you’ve got to do it in a way that minimizes risk.”

READ MORE: Photos show Gov. Tate Reeves partygoers not adhering to his COVID-19 orders.

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Adam Ganucheau, as Mississippi Today's editor-in-chief, oversees the newsroom and works with the editorial team to fulfill our mission of producing high-quality journalism in the public interest. Adam has covered politics and state government for Mississippi Today since February 2016. A native of Hazlehurst, Adam has worked as a staff reporter for, The Birmingham News and The Clarion-Ledger and his work has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post and Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Adam earned his bachelor’s in journalism from the University of Mississippi.