Gov. Brian Kemp is asking Georgians for patience as state officials push to distribute around 11,500 doses per day of the slow-arriving COVID-19 vaccine to health-care workers, nursing homes and people aged 65 and older in some parts of the state.
At a news conference Friday, Kemp said Georgia’s vaccine distribution program is “making steady progress” but is still constrained by the limited number of doses the state has received so far. He expects distribution “will be ramped up” in the coming weeks.
“I’m pleased with how hard everybody’s working, but I’m not happy with where we are,” Kemp said. “We’ve got to keep moving the needle. We’re working on that every single day.”
Around 135,000 vaccines have been administered out of the roughly 554,000 doses shipped to Georgia as of Thursday evening, according to the state Department of Public Health’s website – though Kemp said the website’s data is lagging behind the number of vaccines actually given so far.
The governor said local health departments have been swamped with requests to book appointments after he and Georgia Public Health Commissioner Dr. Kathleen Toomey broadened which Georgians can receive the vaccine last week to people 65-years of age and older, police and firefighters.
State officials plan to launch a new website soon allowing Georgians to see whether they currently qualify for the vaccine and to schedule appointments for receiving either the Pfizer or Moderna brand vaccines, which both require two doses spaced a few weeks apart.
“I’d like to continue to ask for the people of Georgia’s patience as we work hard to swiftly, safely and efficiently administer the limited supply of vaccine we have to those for whom it would be the most good to get it,” Kemp said Friday.
Georgia’s rollout has been complicated by large demand for vaccines from health-care workers in metro Atlanta compared to hospitals and clinics in more rural parts of the state, where Kemp said some front-line workers have refused to take the vaccine. He called their reluctance “unimaginable” and urged everyone to get the vaccine once it’s available.
Kemp’s update on vaccine distribution came as Georgia logged its highest-ever daily total of reported positive COVID-19 cases on Friday at 10,400. No new restrictions on businesses or any lockdowns are forthcoming despite the spike, Kemp said, adding he will “have an open mind” in the event “something changes.”
“We have much hope on the horizon,” Kemp said. “But we’ve got to hunker down and continue to fight this together.”
Roughly 737,000 people in Georgia had tested positive or presumed positive for COVID-19 as of Friday afternoon. The virus had killed 10,180 Georgians.