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Keeping our Promise to Patients in Jackson, Mississippi

Jackson Free Clinic had trouble accessing flu vaccines, here's the story of how we made a difference.

After administering a flu or COVID vaccine, a female nurse places a bandage on a male patient's arm.

Public health is where you are, but when access to healthcare services in your locale becomes difficult, your livelihood can feel uncomfortably at risk.

This is why the world needs health clinics that break barriers and people that support them, which is what occurred in the heart of the city with soul at Jackson Free Clinic - which brings no-cost medical and social health services to Jackson, Mississippi’s underserved and uninsured.

Unfortunately, this year, COVID-19 induced resource constraints left this non-profit clinic unable to provide their ‘staple of preventative care’ – influenza vaccines, said Michael Hohl, a fourth-year medical student at the University of Mississippi Medical Center and one of five executive officers there who run the clinic.

“Last year the vaccine was in our clinic at all times, at every single one of our events and people relied on us for that,” Hohl said. “It really doubled down on us being the place where you can go to get your vaccines.”

Especially with flu cases peaking from January through March in Mississippi, Hohl said his clinic couldn’t afford to be absent. This was especially of the essence since starting in December there was an uptick in cases, and doctors were urging locals to not wait until later to get a shot, according to Jackson local news station WLBT.

“It is part of our role in the community to advocate for the health of our patients and the people of Jackson,” Hohl said. “So even if we couldn't have flu vaccines here at our clinic, we needed to find other options for us to get flu shots to patients.”

Patricia Cannon, Director of State Policy and Government Affairs at Seqirus, which is owned by global biotech leader CSL, caught wind of the situation after hearing from our partner Families Fighting Flu that Jackson Free Clinic had to start turning patients away who were asking for the vaccine.

“I knew there had to be a way to source flu vaccines for them, regardless of the brand, it is our responsibility to protect public health and prevent those people from getting sick,” Cannon said.

Her role at Seqirus is to do just that, connecting the voices of health care providers and advocates who have been impacted by flu to reduce the burden of disease. To do so, Cannon collaborates with government agencies, and in this case, the Mississippi Department of Health, to ensure health care providers like Hohl have access vaccines to serve patients.

By working closely with the local government, she was able to facilitate the sourcing of over 200 influenza vaccines of to his clinic, giving Hohl the opportunity to call many of the patients back who were initially turned away, right as peak flu season began.

“Thanks to our friends at Families Fighting Flu, Seqirus and the Mississippi Department of Health we were able to provide flu vaccines to our patients... Thank you!” the clinic shouted out on Twitter.

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