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A 10th child in Mississippi has died from the coronavirus, the Mississippi Department of Health announced Wednesday afternoon. 

The only information made available about the death is that the child was under 18. All pediatric deaths in Mississippi from COVID-19 have been among the unvaccinated. 

“Vaccination is the best protection for our children who are eligible to receive it,” State Epidemiologist Dr. Paul Byers said in a statement. “For those under five years of age, it is critically important that everyone around the infant and child are vaccinated.” 

Mississippi has one of the lowest vaccination rates nationally and among every age group. Just 7% of Mississippi children aged 5-11 have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, compared to 19% nationally, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The vaccination rate in Mississippi for children ages 12 to 17 is higher (37%) but still lags behind the national rate of 54%. 

“Every pediatric death is a tragedy. Every child was unvaccinated. Many too young to be eligible,” Dr. Anita Henderson, president of the Mississippi Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, said in a tweet following the announcement. “Children depend on the adults around them for protection. Please … get vaccinated and boosted if eligible.” 

Mississippi also has the highest COVID-19 death rate in that nation. The vast majority of deaths in the state have been among the elderly. 

COVID-19 vaccines are now available for any child five years of age and older at all county health departments. MSDH recommends that all those over 12 receive booster shots to prevent hospitalizations and death.

The age ranges for all COVID-19 pediatric deaths in Mississippi are:

  • one death in an infant – under one year of age 
  • two deaths in the 1-5 year age range 
  • one death in the 6-10 year age range 
  • six deaths in the 11-17 year age range 

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Will Stribling covers healthcare and breaking news for Mississippi Today.