As more Georgians get vaccinated, health officials begin fighting hesitancy

More than 1.7 million people in Georgia are now fully vaccinated against COVID-19. But even with more people eligible, the state is starting to see a surplus of supply and not as much demand.

For the last two days, no appointment was necessary to get a COVID-19 vaccine at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

FOX 5 talked to Georgia Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Kathleen Toomey and Dr. Chris Rustin about where the state is at with vaccination efforts.

"We need to keep encouraging people that vaccine is available and that there are appointments available. While a few months ago, we had supply chain issues, we are not seeing that now," Dr. Rustin, the incident manager for COVID-19 response at Georgia's Department of Public Health.

It was about three weeks ago when Governor Brian Kemp announced all Georgians 16 and older would be eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine. What was once a supply issue is now becoming an issue of finding people who want to get vaccinated.

"We do know that there's hesitancy, especially outside the metro Atlanta area. We're currently studying that issue with the CDC to try to determine what is driving that hesitancy," said Rustin.

According to the CDC, about 28% of Georgia's population has received at least one dose of the vaccine. That's one of the lowest rates in the country. Georgia Department of Public Health officials said they would like to see that percentage much higher by July.

"I've said at several events we'd like to see 80% of all Georgians vaccinated by the Fourth of July, so we can celebrate Georgia's independence from the virus," said Dr. Kathleen Toomey.

Georgia's Department of Public Health is following the CDC recommendation to stop the distribution of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine. That came after the CDC announced its investigating blood clots that could be connected to the vaccine.

"The fact that this was reported so quickly, and it's a very rare event," said Toomey.

Public health officials said their next focus will be on finding creative ways to get more vaccines administered across the state.

"In order for us to truly reach the hesitant population, we have to be in the community offering vaccinations that are much more convenient and almost bring the vaccine to the community," said Rustin.

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