ATLANTA, Ga. (CW69 News at 10) — During a vaccine update on March 23, 2021, Governor Brian Kemp announced Georgia took another step in expanding the eligibility criteria. “Effective this Thursday, March 25, all Georgians over the age of 16 will be eligible for the COVID-19 vaccination,” he said.

This came hours after officials announced plans to open a federal mass vaccination site at Mercedes-Benz Stadium starting Wednesday, March 24. It’s the largest vaccination center in the Southeast. “No event is more important than what’s about to take place here at Mercedes-Benz over the next eight weeks,” said AMB Sports and Entertainment CEO Steve Cannon, reflecting on the sports and concerts held there since it opened five years ago and until the pandemic.

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The state is partnering with FEMA, the Georgia National Guard and other agencies to serve about 42,000 people a week for eight weeks, administering 336,000 doses. They’ll administer Pfizer for the first six weeks and Johnson & Johnson for the last two weeks. “I’m just honored to be here to support this partnership,” said Kemp. “Opening this center is possible through what we call a whole community effort,” said FEMA Acting Administrator Robert Fenton. Fulton County Chairman Robb Pitts discuss how the facility will help with efforts to ensure access to the vaccine. “We’re putting together every available resource to deliver on our promise of health equity,” he said.

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Kemp said the vaccine demand continues to outweigh the supply. He cited CDC data showing Georgia has received the second fewest number of doses from the federal government per 100,000 residents out of the 50 states. There’s also growing concern about new COVID variants from the United Kingdom, South Africa and Brazil. “We’re staying on top of this very, very closely,” said Georgia Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Kathleen Toomey. “This is where contact tracing is absolutely essential.”

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Officials have continued advising the vaccine is safe, while addressing ongoing concerns from those who are hesitant to get it. They’re urging everyone to make appointments as soon as possible. Click here to find a COVID vaccination site. You can also contact private providers like Kroger, CVS, Walgreens and other pharmacies.