'Talk to your doctor': Kemp urges Georgians to strongly consider getting vaccinated

Gov. Brian Kemp holds a press conference at the Gold Dome in Atlanta on May 7, 2020. (FOX 5)

Georgia Governor Brian Kemp is asking Georgians to do their "due diligence" by consulting with their doctors and health care experts on the decision to get one of the three COVID-19 vaccines approved under emergency use by the FDA. The governor, appearing on America's Newsroom on FOX News also took a jab at the White House saying people "don't trust" the federal government due to "mixed messages."

"There's been a lot of mixed messages coming out of the White House, ‘get vaccinated, take your mask off.’ Now they want you to wear your mask, and I think that's been part of the issue, delay in the Johnson & Johnson vaccine," Gov. Kemp said. "We were really geared up to get rolling on that when it was paused for a while."

Vaccinations in Georgia this week surpassed 9 million doses with 46.5% of those eligible to receive the vaccine is fully vaccinated, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That number lags behind the national average of 58.8%.

"But despite all that, we are seeing our vaccination rates go up as the Delta variant continues to spread, not only here, but across the country," Kemp said.

The Delta variant now accounts for about 90% of new cases across the state, health officials said. The Georgia Department of Public Health on Wednesday afternoon said the number of hospitalizations has also jumped by 200 to 3,820.

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In southeast Georgia, where state health officials identify is just over 30% of the state's hospitalizations from COVID-19, 99% of all emergency department beds, 89% of all ICU beds, and 92% of all regular inpatient beds were filled by COVID-19 patients as of Tuesday.

Health officials have said more than 86% of those hospitalized have not been vaccinated.

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But the governor said he is glad of the decision his health officials made early on in the vaccination process.

"I'm so thankful that we took the approach early on to vaccinate our seniors and the medically vulnerable because we're seeing our fatalities in that age group and many other people fall in our state, but we're fighting hard," Kemp said.

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As of 3 p.m. Wednesday, the two-week average of new COVID-19 positive PCR tests has risen to 3,272, according to the Georgia Department of Public Health. The GDPH data also shows for the second day in a row, the combined positive PCR and antigen tests have inched higher, hovering just below 7,000, a number not seen since the end of January. The seven-day average is now above 5,536.

"My message to people is you need to talk to your doctor, talk to your local pharmacist," Kemp said. "We've got a lifesaving vaccine that the Trump administration delivered to us in warp speed time with Operation Warp Speed, and that's my message to folks because there's so much distrust with the government right now."

To learn more about the COVID-19 vaccines and where to get them, click here.

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