ATLANTA, Ga. (CW69 News at 10) — Georgia has administered a combination of 1.1 million Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccine doses over the last month, according to Governor Brian Kemp.
He announced 83,000 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine are headed to the state this week. “We will be prioritizing those doses for our educators to expedite a full five days a week return to the classroom,” Kemp said.READ MORE: 'The Sky's The Limit For The U.S. Economy,' Says Economic Analyst
Starting next week, Georgia’s weekly vaccine supply will increase from 198,000 to 223,000 doses. Additional vaccine sites will allow more eligible people to get shots. “We’re standing up five additional state-operated mass vaccination sites in Chatham, Ware, Washington, Bartow and Muskogee Counties,” said Kemp.
Those five locations, which are scheduled to open on March 17, are specifically in Savannah, Waycross, Sandersville, Cartersville and Columbus, and they are in addition to the four existing state-run sites. “With the opening of the additional mass sites, we’ll have the potential to administer a minimum of 20,000 more doses a week,” said Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Director Chris Stallings.
GA Emergency Management and Homeland Security Dir. Chris Stallings discusses the additional mass vaccination sites that will open on March 17. pic.twitter.com/J6UhV3vkOe
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“The state mass vaccination sites currently have 75,000 currently eligible Georgians on a waiting list,” said Kemp. He recommended the public can also sign up with private providers like CVS and Kroger, which are also offering appointments.
Over 860,000 Georgians over the age of 65 have now received at least one vaccine dose, representing 60% of Georgia’s most vulnerable citizens. “This is one of the highest percentages of any state in the country, with the national average being at 49%,” said Kemp. “I believe we have done more than any state to protect those who are most vulnerable to COVID-19.”
State officials previously announced plans to expand the eligibility criteria effective March 8, allowing teachers and school staff, adults and children with intellectual and developmental disabilities and parents of children with complex medical issues to get the vaccine. “All this will be outlined well ahead of time so there won’t be confusion, as well as on the scheduling tool, we’ll have these various categories,” said Dr. Kathleen Toomey, the commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Health.
Data shows the state has made lots of progress, in terms of the decreasing the 7-day average number of cases and hospitalizations. As some states eliminate mask mandates, Kemp urged Georgians to continue wearing masks for now, in addition to following the CDC guidelines to prevent the spread of the virus.MORE NEWS: Stimulus Check Update: Are You Eligible For A Plus-Up Payment?
State officials plan to further expand the vaccine eligibility criteria in two weeks and have indicated they will release more details in a couple of days.