With 1,575 GA vaccine providers signed up, finding vaccine is the hard part

In the month since Georgia began vaccinating healthcare providers, the state has given out just over 235,000 doses of the vaccine.

It's averaging about 11,000 vaccinations a day.

Still, for the 1.3 million Georgians age 65 and older and many vaccine providers, finding vaccine has been the challenge.

By Wednesday the Georgia Department of Public Health had signed up 1,575 vaccine providers.

But, with the state allocated just 120,000 doses a week, Innovation Compounding, an independent pharmacy in Kennesaw says its supply has been trickling in.

Shawn Hodges says they are getting and giving out by appointment about about 100 vaccines doses a week at a drive-thru clinic.

A vial of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine sits on a table at a drive-thru vaccine site in Atlanta.

But since in the days since the company launched it's vaccine registration website, ww.vaxgeorgia.com, just over 4,500 people have registered, booking them up for through April.

"We hope to have more vaccines come in that will allow us to open up the appointment schedule, so that we can take on more patients," Shawn Hodges says.  "And, in fact we're working with the county now to have almost an expo day, where we can vaccinate up to 5,000 patients on a Saturday.  But, we can't book that until we get the vaccines, of course."

A growing concern: the U.S. is reporting its first cases of a new, more contagious strain of the coronavirus linked to a major surge of cases that has crippled hospitals in the UK.

Kaiser Permanente of Georgia epidemiologist Dr. Felipe Lobelo says to stay ahead of the variant, the US needs to be vaccinating about a million Americans a day.

"At the current rate it's just going to take too long, and the vaccine isn't going to help us diminish the mortality that we're currently seeing that is obviously off the charts, with more than 4,000 deaths yesterday," Dr. Lobelo says.

Georgia is averaging just over 7,300 new cases day, a pandemic record.    Microbiologist Dr. Amber Schmidtke, Ph.D., is urging people to be vigilant.

"If you're over the age of 65 or you have a medical condition, this is a good time to effectively shelter in place, like you did in the spring," Schmidtke says.  "We know there is a lot of disease out there and we know that any indoor gathering is a risky situation for you."

As of Wednesday, just over 5700 people were hospitalized statewide with COVID-19. 

That's 1 out of every 3 patients in the hospital.

The state's ICUs were at 93% capacity and about 45% of the state's ventilators were in use, according the Georgia Department of Public Health's website.

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