Kemp, GDPH expands vaccine distribution to include residents 65 and older, first responders

The Georgia Department of Public Health and the Georgia Governor's Office announced Thursday morning they are expanding who can receive the COVID-19 vaccine during the first phase of distribution.

Kemp initially set the priority for healthcare workers and nursing home residents but has now added Georgia residents who are 65 and older as well as all first responders. That will include law enforcement and firefighters in addition to EMTs and paramedics.

State health officials say the expansion could happen within the next two weeks.

"Following the expert guidance of Dr. Toomey, the CDC, and the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, Georgia will move to expand Phase 1a vaccination criteria within the next two weeks to include the elderly, law enforcement officers, firefighters and first responders - provided the state continues to receive adequate vaccine supplies," said Governor Kemp. "We will continue to monitor the administration efforts of our public health workers and partners in the private sector, and the supply chain of both the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines to ensure eligible Georgians are vaccinated without delay."

"Different areas of the state are completing Phase 1a at different times based on the number of healthcare workers and LTCF residents and staff they have to vaccinate," said Commissioner Toomey. "This expansion of 1a eligible vaccination criteria will allow vaccine to be administered as quickly as possible to our most at-risk populations in terms of exposure, transmission and severity. It also gives healthcare providers and public health staff time to plan and work with local communities across the state to ensure safe and efficient deployment of limited vaccine supplies."

Next in line, according to the governor's plan, would people working in socially important jobs, like restaurants, and finally healthy children and young adults.

By that time, people should be able to get the vaccine at multiple locations, including pharmacies.

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