The group is called Mississippi Against Mandates – and it wants to mobilize concerned citizens of the Magnolia State who don't believe the government has the right to force people to get an inoculation or lose their job or access to travel or other benefits.
Dr. John Witcher is co-founder of the group. During a rally in Tupelo on Saturday, he pointed out that state health officials currently are pushing the idea of inoculating children ages 5-11. According to a 2019 Pew Research analysis, most states (44) allow children to be exempt from vaccinations due to religious concerns. But as Witcher noted, Mississippi is not among them; in fact, it can be found along with liberal states like California, New York, and Maine.
"Mississippi – we're the [one] state in the south that does not allow religious exemption for our children to get them out of the childhood vaccines. We want to change that; we don't believe that's right," stated the Yazoo City emergency room physician.
"If you want your child to be vaccinated, that's fine – and if you don't, you don't have to. That's what I believe. I believe it's a choice."
According to Witcher, the biggest obstacle in protecting Mississippians from mandated COVID injections is Dr. Thomas Dobbs, the state health officer.
"That's what we're up against. If we can get Dobbs to fall, the rest of them will back off. Trust me on that," he told the crowd. "Dethrone Dobbs, Governor [Tate] Reeves – dethrone Dobbs. Sign an executive order, call a special session – let's get this job done. It's that easy."
In August, Dobbs was quoted as saying COVID shots remain the state's "best way out of this pandemic."
Other rallies have been held recently in Pascagoula, Oxford, Jackson, and Columbus. The group is sponsoring a roundtable discussion on COVID vaccines Friday, October 29, in Jackson.
Editor's note: Story corrected to show day of roundtable in Jackson is on Friday, not Saturday.