Gov. Tate Reeves held his a press conference regarding COVID-19 updates at Trustmark Park in Pearl on March 22, 2021. Credit: Vickie D. King/Mississippi Today

Gov. Tate Reeves, on national television on Friday, was confronted with two troubling statistics: Mississippi has fully vaccinated just 14% of the state’s residents and ranks 47th in the nation in administering the COVID-19 vaccines that the state has received.

That data — widely reported by Mississippi Today and other state and national outlets — comes from the Mississippi State Department of Health, which Reeves has heavily relied on the past year, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Pressed during the live CNBC interview on why those numbers are so low, Reeves pushed back, saying, “Actually, I don’t think those numbers are accurate.” The governor said federal agencies like the Department of Defense, Department of Veterans Affairs are administering vaccines and not reporting the data to the state.

“I think the difference in being 20th or 40th (in the nation) is just a couple percentage points, and once we get accurate data in the system… what you’ll find is we’re going to be middle of the pack in terms of total vaccines distributed,” Reeves said.

MAP: Where to get the COVID-19 vaccine in Mississippi

Health care experts, including State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs, have discussed that many providers in Mississippi who have administered vaccines — particularly small clinics in rural parts of the state — have not been quick to update the vaccine database. That delay may result, officials say, in lower-than-actual percentages of vaccines administered showing in the database.

Reeves on Monday said those lags could mean the state’s public reporting of vaccine data is as far as 10% behind actual shots administered. But that statement is speculation without the numbers to back it up.

According to the most recent data data from the CDC and MSDH, Mississippi has administered 1,134,883 of the 1,594,445 doses of COVID-19 vaccine that have been delivered to the state. That moves the state up one place in the national rankings reported earlier this week — now 46th in the percentage of doses administered. 

Across Mississippi, 733,010 people — 24% of the state’s total population — have received at least their first dose of COVID-19 vaccine. More than 426,000 people have been fully inoculated since the state began distributing vaccines in December.

READ MORE: Frequently asked questions about COVID vaccines in Mississippi

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Will Stribling covered healthcare and breaking news for Mississippi Today.