ATLANTA - Four state operated mass vaccination centers will be opened across Georgia next week in an effort to ramp up distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine during Phase 1A+, officials announced Thursday.
Gov. Brian Kemp, joined by Director of the Georgia Department of Public Health Dr. Kathleen Toomey and Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency Director James Stallings, said those centers will be in Albany, Macon, Habersham County, and at the Delta Air Museum at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.
The governor said about 1,100 people per day can be vaccinated at each site or about 22,000 per week at all four. That number can be scaled up as more vaccines become available.
"That list of sites can and will expand as we receive more doses and expand the available supply," Kemp said.
The sites will open Monday, Feb. 22. The locations were picked to help addresses minority and underserved communities.
Where are the mass COVID-19 vaccine distribution sites in Georgia located?
- Delta Air Museum, located at 1220 Woolman Place SW in Hapeville
- Albany Georgia Forestry Site, located at 2910 Newton Road in Albany
- Habersham County Fairgrounds, located at 4235 Toccoa Highway in Clarkesville
- Macon Farmers Market, located at 2055 Eisenhower Parkway in Macon
Georgia officials said the state will start receiving 198,000 weekly first doses starting next week. Plans to expand who is eligible for the vaccines are expected to be finalized in the coming weeks, officials said.
"GEMA/HS’ efforts are designed to address the vaccination needs of underserved populations that have been hardest hit by COVID-19," said Chris Stallings, GEMA/HS Director. "The four sites selected all have surrounding populations with high percentages of minorities and individuals with incomes below the poverty line."
Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency Director James Stallings
The vaccine will be distributed by appointment only. The state has now set up a new website to make that easier. That site is myvaccinegeorgia.com. Once their appointment comes up, an email will be sent that will contain a QR code. Georgians will need that code and a valid ID when going to the appointment.
Everyone receiving a vaccine will need to wait 15 minutes after for observation.
All the sites will be distributing the Pfizer vaccine and the cost will be covered by FEMA.
"The GEMA/HS Mass Vaccination Sites will not accept walk-ups, and we are strictly adhering to the guidelines for who is eligible for vaccination," said Stallings. "We highly encourage people to complete the registration process using a mobile device, which makes the intake process faster."
As of Thursday, more than 1.6 million COVID-19 vaccines were administered with just a little more than a half a million having received their second doses.
What is significant is the percentage of used vaccines. It is currently at its highest it has been at 82%. That is because of supply-line issues due to the unprecedented winter storm across the country mixed with an increase in demand. The state has received less of its allotted amount this week than in the previous weeks.
Officials also announced that several state and local agencies would be joining forces to ensure that all seniors in Georgia have a chance to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
Department of Human Services and the Department of Public Health and local Area Agencies on Aging are teaming up to sign up older Georgians and to coordinate transportations services.
"This partnership is a great example of the way Georgia is answering the call to protect its residents from COVID-19 and get vulnerable populations vaccinated," Kemp said.
More than 718,000 seniors have taken advantage so far and 101,000 doses have been administered by pharmacy partners CVS and Walgreens, the state said Thursday.
"Vaccination is so important for people aged 65 and older, but for those without a social support system to help them navigate a website, getting a vaccine can be extremely difficult," said Toomey. "This collaboration with DHS and AAAs demonstrates our collective ability to get the vaccine to the vulnerable individuals in Georgia who need it most."
Director of the Georgia Department of Public Health Dr. Kathleen Toomey
According to data provided by the Georgia Department of Public Health, as of Thursday afternoon the 7-day average for confirmed cases has declined to 2,172. The state has seen a downward trend since the Jan. 26 and has the 7-day average has decreased by about 60% in that time. It is also the lowest it has been since Nov. 16, 2020.
Hospitalizations also are on the decline with 2,593 current COVID-19 patients which is about 16% of Georgia’s total hospital population. The state said that is a 55% decline since last month’s peak
The two-week positivity rate has also dipped below 10% for the first time since Nov. 28, 2020, the GDPH reported. It was at 9.5% as of Thursday.
Kemp said what remains high are the deaths. The governor said 85% of all deaths in Georgia have been people 60 and over. That is why he is once again pushing to ensure all seniors in the state take advantage of getting the COVID-19 vaccine.
When are teachers included in the vaccine rollout?
The governor also released the result from a Department of Education survey, which found that 45% of school district employees would want to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
While state health officials have not expanded the current phase of vaccinations, Kemp applauded district education leaders in their efforts to find local health offices and providers to be able to quickly distribute the vaccine once it becomes available for educators.
"Many superintendents have been working on this issue and I greatly appreciate their leadership in identifying way to partner with local communities and entities to vaccine their staff," Kemp said.
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