ATLANTA, Ga. (CW69 News at 10) — About 1,200 members of Atlanta Public Schools’ 6,000 employee workforce were among those getting vaccinated at Mercedes-Benz Stadium when it officially opened on March 24, 2021, as the largest mass COVID-19 vaccination site in the region.

“The health, safety and well-being of the entire Atlanta Public Schools community has been a top priority,” said Superintendent Dr. Lisa Herring. “We are extremely thankful for the support from the Mercedes-Benz Stadium and the Arthur Blank Foundation.”

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The teachers received their first dose of the Pfizer vaccine. This comes as Georgia plans to expand the eligibility criteria effective March 25. “Now that we have vaccination and access to those 16 and older, those are considerations that will go into our planning our fall opening,” Herring said.

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Governor Brian Kemp criticized APS for pushing to get teachers vaccinated but not initially holding their vaccination event when he opened up eligibility for them weeks earlier. “We don’t believe we’ve done a disservice at all. If anything, we’ve wanted to focus on mass vaccination, and we know we started doing vaccinations in January,” Herring said in response to the statement.

County officials reflected on how Mercedes-Benz Stadium has gone from facilitating voting to serving as a COVID testing location to operating now as a vaccination center. “Our next step will be to ensure that all families of Atlanta Public School families also receive the vaccine,” said Fulton County Chairman Robb Pitts. They’re addressing vaccine hesitancy and urging everyone to get the shots right away. “You have the ability to go on the DPH website, Fulton County Board site, there’s a call center that anybody can call to get scheduled,” said Fulton County Board of Health Director of Nursing and Clinical Services Meshell McCloud.

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State officials have acknowledged the challenges of getting appointments, indicating private providers like pharmacies are also good places to start.