ATLANTA, Ga. (CW69 News at 10) — During a press conference on March 16, 2021, Governor Brian Kemp announced judges and courtroom staff are now eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, as court cases continue piling up. This comes after the state expanded the criteria to include those ages 55 and older and adults with severe health conditions. “The more people who are vaccinated, the more lives we save and the quicker we can all get back to our normal way of life,” he said.

Kemp said the state received 458,000 vaccines this week for both first and second doses, including 11,500 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. He said the state can expect to receive the same allocation or at lease a small increase in vaccines next week. In addition, Kemp said officials are planning on a large increase the week of March 29.

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Georgia Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Kathleen Toomey discussed the declining number of COVID cases, including those in nursing homes. “That reflects the fact that the majority of residents in long term care facilities are now vaccinated,” Toomey said.

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Five new state-run vaccination sites will open on March 17, adding to the existing four. Vaccines are administered by appointment only. “It makes it very difficult if you don’t have an appointment. It makes the allocation process a lot more difficult,” said Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Director Chris Stallings, adding those under age 18 must have a parent or guardian with them to sign the required documentation.

Officials have previously warned the public about potential long wait lists and challenges with getting appointments. They’re urging everyone to be patient, as the federal government increases the vaccine supply. Providers are prohibited from holding onto vaccines and must administer at least 80% of their weekly allocation of first doses within seven days. “We’re going to move these doses where the demand is,” said Kemp. He also said at least 250,000 doses administered in Georgia through the federal pharmacy program were not properly reported to the state’s system. It counted against the state’s record of shipped vaccine doses, but the reporting issue had no effect on the number of doses administered. Officials plan to resolve the issue by the end of March.

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To make appointments at any of the state-run vaccination sites, click here. For site locations, including a list of private providers, click here.