As Georgians receive first dose of COVID-19 vaccine, some wonder where they'll find next dose

Dan Goerke of Sandy Springs, Georgia, says he felt relieved, even a little giddy, as he received his first dose of COVID-19 vaccine Tuesday night at a Metro-Atlanta Publix store.

Goerke’s 64-year-old wife Denise in a nursing care facility in the advanced stages of early-onset Alzheimer's disease.

When Georgia health officials expanded the vaccine guidelines to include people age 65 and older and their caregivers, Goerke says, he was not sure if he'd have to show some kind of proof he is a caregiver.

"I was prepared, for good or bad, to show them pictures of Denise, show them my Facebook page, about how I'm a caregiver for her, incidental things like that, but they never asked," he says.

The Georgia Department of Public Health says caregivers do not have to provide documentation to receive the coronavirus vaccine.

As of Wednesday, January 20, 2021, nearly 485,000 does of COVID vaccines had been administered, according to the Georgia COVID-19 Vaccine Status Dashboard on www.dph.georgia.gov.

Still, Dr. Amber Schimidtke, a microbiologist who publishes an online newsletter about Georgia's pandemic situation, says finding an appointment for that first dose has been challenging for many of her followers.

"That is actually the thing that I am hearing more than anything right now," Schmidtke says, "It's not questions of safety, not questions of vaccine efficacy, but, ‘How in the world do I get my shot?’"

President Joe Biden is promising an ambitious plan to vaccinate 100 million Americans in his first 100 days in office, organizing federally funded mass vaccination clinics and mobile vaccine units designed to vaccinate people in hard-to-reach communities.

"I think that really we need to be creative and put all options on the table," Schmidtke says.  "I think something like a mobile vaccine clinic could be really useful, especially in reaching rural populations or medically-underserved populations."

Publix automatically scheduled Dan Goerke for his second dose when he scheduled his first appointment, although some Georgians are being told they need to schedule their second doses themselves.

If need a follow-up dose, try to schedule that with your original provider.

If you cannot get in, you can switch providers for your second dose, but you need to stick with the same type of vaccine for both shots.

That means if you received the Pfizer vaccine, you will need to get that vaccine for your second shot.

Those who receive the Moderna vaccine should stick with that for both shots.

The CDC is advising people who have had their first dose, to try to stick to their 3-or 4-week recommended interval between their two vaccinations.

But, the agency says, there is no maximum interval, so it is okay if you are a little late in getting that second dose.

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