By Valencia Jones

ATLANTA, Ga. (CW69 News at 10) — Governor Brian Kemp recapped his stance on demands for mask and vaccine mandates while giving a COVID-19 update. Georgia Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Kathleen Toomey joined him to clear up misconceptions on booster shots.

Kemp says COVID cases and hospitalizations have recently dropped, and so has the state’s vaccine allocation from the federal government. “I want to emphasize the importance of not waiting until the next wave of COVID cases to get vaccinated,” he said, referencing a potential upcoming surge in cases. “Given that our increase in cases and hospitalizations in 2021 were similar in timing to surges seen in 2020, we can only assume that a winter increase is also possible,” he said.

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Kemp stopped short of mandating masks or vaccines as part of the solution, while urging Georgians to get vaccinated. He also criticized the Biden Administration for the sweeping federal vaccine requirements he says will hurt countless businesses. “It’s just more government that we better be careful what we ask for,” said Kemp.

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Dr. Kathleen Toomey addressed booster doses. “That urgency that so many of us felt a year ago is not what this is about. It’s about ensuring we still have a strong immune response for those who are vaccinated,” Toomey said. She says the current doses generally provide enough protection. Currently, only those who received the Pfizer vaccine can get booster doses if they choose to. “We anticipate from the CDC that recommendations for boosters for the other vaccines will be coming in the coming weeks,” said Toomey. She indicated the current booster shot criteria is simple, explaining, “You’ve, number one, previously received the Pfizer, and you’re over the age of 18.” It applies to those ages 18 and older with underlying medical conditions, as well as pregnant women and those planning to get pregnant.

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Officials are also urging Georgians to get flu shots, in addition to the vaccines.