State eases restrictions on Elberton medical provider who gave vaccines to educators

The state has eased its penalties against a northeast Georgia medical practice that gave COVID-19 vaccines to people who weren't eligible, including teachers.

Last month, the state suspended the medical center of Elberton for six months from administering COVID-19 vaccines.

The Georgia Department of Public Health seized all of its COVID-19 vaccines after the family practice clinic confirmed it had vaccinated 177 teachers even though they weren’t part of the current priority group.

The medical center claimed the whole thing was a mistake saying by the time the guidelines for the vaccine rollout were clear they had already vaccinated about 40% of teachers in Elbert County.

Weeks later, the GDPH has had a change of heart.

At the medical center's request, health officials have decided to modify the terms of the 6-month suspension.

Instead of waiting until July 27 to begin receiving doses and administering COVID-19 vaccines, the center now only has to wait until March 14. But there's a catch. It will still be on probation, meaning the clinic has to adhere to strict guidelines including reviewing and signing an eligibility checklist before and after administering the vaccine.

According to the letter from the GDPH, another strike against the Medical Center of Elberton would mean permanent termination from the vaccination program.

Starting immediately, the clinic will be allowed to give second doses of the Pfizer vaccine to people who received their first shot from them.

The Moderna doses, however, must be turned over to a pharmacy appointed by the GDPH.

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