ATLANTA - Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp made clear Wednesday his intention to prioritize vaccinating teachers for COVID-19 and to improve the state's vaccination rate by opening five new mass vaccination sites.
Five new vaccination sites will open on March 17. In addition to the previous four sites, the Georgia Department of Public Health will open sites in Chatham, Ware, Washington, Bartow, and Muscogee counties. This will increase doses given each week by 45,000.
The new sites are located at:
- LakePoint Sports, 261 Stars Way, Emerson
- Gulfstream Aerospace, 500 Gulfstream Road, Savannah
- Columbus Civic Center, 4th Street, Columbus
- The Mall at Waycross Shopping Center, 2209 Memorial Drive, Waycross
- Word of Life Church, 1209 S Harris St, Sandersville
Photo: Claire Simms/FOX 5 Atlanta
Once they open, the state will have a total of nine mass vaccination sites. Locations include LakePoint Sports Complex, Habersham County Fairgrounds, Delta Airlines Museum, Macon Farmers Market, Sandersville Word of Life Church, Columbus Civic Center, Albany Georgia Forestry Commission Site 8, Gulfstream Aerospace and Waycross Mall.
"These additional sites mean even greater access to the vaccine for Georgians," said Chris Stallings, GEMA/HS Director. "Our partnerships with Gulfstream Aerospace and public partners are enabling us to provide these additional resources for communities across the state, and we are grateful for their hospitality."
Kemp spoke to reporters at the Georgia State Capitol and emphasized some improvements in COVID-19 data in Georgia, but stressed the importance to safely return students to classrooms.
On March 8, vaccinations will be available to additional categories of individuals, including Georgia teachers. Kemp has officially added Pre-K through 12th-grade educators and staff among other groups to be eligible for a COVID-19 vaccinations in Georgia. That includes both public and private schools as well as those who work for Georgia's Department of Early Care and Learning.
"Every student belongs in the classroom," Kemp said. "Five days a week. Full time. As soon as possible."
Individuals can register for a vaccine at myvaccinegeorgia.com.
Data from the Centers for Disease Control shows that Georgia is lagging behind other states in terms of its inoculation rate. Data shows Georgia's 28.893 per 100,000 doses ranks as one of the lowest rates in the U.S.
Kemp said the 83,000 doses of the Johnson and Johnson COVID-19 vaccine will be prioritized for educators. The state will start to receive 223,000 vaccine doses next week, up from 198,000.
The governor said the number of first doses administered of the last week has dropped as the state catches up giving second doses. He said the state has been restricted up-to-now, but the federal government’s vaccine allotment. He said those numbers will improve within the next week.
State data reports more than 860,000 Georgians over the age of 65 years old have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
"We're doing very well for who we're targeting," Kemp said.
Kemp emphasized Georgia seniors are vaccinated at a rate of 60% compared to a national average of 49%.
"The data shows these are the most vulnerable to COVID-19," Kemp said adding they have made significant efforts to helping that population fight this virus.
Kemp said he believes the state’s prioritizing the older population has saved lives.
Data from the governor's office indicates the 7-day rolling average of COVID-19 cases in Georgia is on a continued decline, as well as the average daily hospitalizations.
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