GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. - Monday marked the first day Georgia educators became eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Districts across the state are hosting vaccination events or coordinating with local departments of health to get teachers vaccinated.
Vaccinations started Monday morning in Gwinnett County at Gwinnett Place Mall where health officials plan to vaccinate 600 teachers per day.
"I'm so grateful. So grateful. So happy," said Marci Maurer-Nunnery, a former educator.
People came out of the Gwinnett Place Mall vaccination site on Monday smiling and cheering. Educators like Michele Scott said getting the vaccination is a relief.
"It's so exciting. It's been a long time coming. Having a lot of exposure with students makes it a little precarious with what's going on today," said Scott.
The vaccination site in Gwinnett County is scheduling 1,800 appointments a day, but health officials told FOX 5 it's capable of handling more once the state gets more supply.
"I kind of feel relieved. I've gone this long without catching it, but I've been very careful and with students in the classroom," explained Joaquin Byrd, a Gwinnett County Public School educator, "This just makes me feel a lot more comfortable coming into work."
Gov. Brian Kemp toured Gwinnett County's vaccination facility on Monday and one in Habersham County. Kemp told reporters Georgia is ahead of the curve when it comes to vaccinating people 65 and older.
"As of this morning, over 900,000 seniors have had one dose or more in our state, that's 64% of Georgia's elderly population," said Kemp.
Governor Kemp praised Gwinnett County schools for starting to vaccinate teachers immediately, but he was critical of other districts like Atlanta Public Schools which isn't vaccinating teachers at Mercedes-Benz Stadium until later this month.
"Atlanta Public School's board sent me a letter demanding that teachers needed to be vaccinated when they knew dang well, we couldn't do that," said Kemp, "I didn't have the supply to do that. I had said that. Now, they're going to wait two or three weeks, I think. I believe they're doing a disservice to their teachers."
Districts across the state are developing different plans to vaccinate teachers over the course of the next few months. Many educators said they feel grateful that this day has finally come.
Kemp was also asked about when the next group of people will be eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine. He said he's waiting to hear how much vaccine supply Georgia will receive in the coming weeks before making a decision.
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