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All Georgians age 16+ to be eligible for vaccine starting Thursday

Published: Mar. 23, 2021 at 11:53 AM CDT
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ATLANTA - Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp announced Tuesday that starting Thursday, all Georgians age 16 and older will be eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine.

He was joined at a 4:15 p.m. news conference by Georgia Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Kathleen Toomey and Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency Director Chris Stallings.

He pointed out how the state has prioritized the state’s most vulnerable residents in getting vaccinations. And after opening up vaccinations a few days ago to people age 55 and older, he said it’s time to widen the group again, this time to all Georgia residents 16 and older.

He said Georgians need to sign up for a vaccination as soon as possible, as he expects a dramatic increase in demand as the state opens up vaccinations to this newly larger group of people.

Toomey touted how well the state has cut down on infections in nursing homes, but warned that the rise of COVID-19 mutations raises concerns about a new surge.

Georgia has come under criticism for its low percentage of the general population who have been vaccinated. But Kemp countered during the news conference that Georgia has the second fewest number of doses shipped to it for the number of residents, putting it 49th in supply.

Stallings said the state has been experiencing scheduling problems in ensuring that people can get a second dose at a state-operated mass vaccination site.

He pledged that those problems will be solved through the addition of staff members.

He urged people not to panic, saying they need to wait at least three weeks after the first Pfizer dose before they can get their second one, but said they have more than 40 days before the deadline arrives.

Augusta got a shout-out during the update, with Kemp pointing out the great work being done by African American pastors in the area in overcoming vaccine hesitancy to get shots in arms.

He also said that in recent days, 70 percent of the vaccine allocation has been sent to north Georgia and the Atlanta area where demand is highest. He said even with that flow of vaccine doses, appointments are available in rural areas. He urged people to be willing to drive an hour or two to to get vaccinated.

He said the state will continue to make adjustments to make sure anyone who wants a vaccination can get one but that many of the action going forward will be at the local level rather than by the state or federal government.

“We are going to make this vaccine available to all parts of our state,” he said.

“We’re going to move the doses to where the demand is.”

Where to get a shot this week

Vaccinations are ramping up across the two-state region, and there are more chances for you to get your shot this week.

  • Appointments are available this week at AU Health’s vaccination hub. You can also sign up for appointments at the Washington Square location, 2834 Washington Road. Sign up at https://www.augustahealth.org/vaccine.
  • In Washington County, a state-run drive-thru clinic is located at the Word of Life Church in Sandersville. You can register at MyVaccineGeorgia.com.
  • Sand Hills Community Center starting on Tuesday will be distributing the vaccination from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
  • Optim Medical Center-Screven will be holding a free, drive-thru first-dose Moderna vaccine clinic on March 27 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on the hospital campus, 215 Mims Road in Sylvania. Enter at the main hospital entrance off Rocky Ford Road. The date and time for the second dose will be provided after first dose has been administered. It’s open to Georgia residents who meet the current COVID-19 vaccine eligibility requirements, listed below. Appointments are required by calling 912-629-3555.
  • Aiken Regional Medical Center has partnered with the University of South Carolina Aiken and will hold vaccination clinics at the student activity center, 471 University Parkway: 1,250 Moderna first dose vaccinations available March 24 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. with the second dose scheduled for April 21, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.; and 1,000 Moderna first dose vaccinations available March 31 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. with the second dose scheduled for April 28, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Visit aikenregional.com.
  • Family Health Centers will hold walk-in vaccine clinics in Orangeburg County for anyone in Phase 1A and 1B. They’ll be open from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. or while supplies at: Tuesday at Orangeburg City Gym, 410 Broughton St., Orangeburg; Wednesday at Santee Conference Center, 1737 Bass Dr., Santee, and Holly Hill Depot, 8603 Old State Rd., Holly Hill; Thursday at Orangeburg County Fairgrounds, 350 Magnolia St., Orangeburg; and Friday at St. Mark United Methodist Church, 8502 North Road, North, S.C., and Lovely Hill Convention Center, 5905 West Jim Bilton Blvd., Saint George. For more information, call 803-531-6900
  • University Hospital is holding a registration-only Moderna vaccination clinic for Phase 1B of the population on Thursday from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at Old Macedonia Baptist Church, 200 Macedonia Road, North Augusta. Register at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/university-hospital-covid-vaccine-clinic-phase-1b-tickets-147426351185.
  • Anyone in the state can sign up for vaccines at public health sites by visiting https://gta-vras.powerappsportals.us/.

The Associated Press contributed to this report