DeKalb healthcare workers, nursing homes start getting COVID-19 vaccine this month
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By Patrick Saunders, contributor
DeKalb County, GA — Several hundred thousand doses of the COVID-19 vaccine will be distributed in Georgia in the next seven to 10 days, but state officials warned that it will take months for doses to arrive for the general public.
“Our first shipments will not be anywhere close enough for anyone in our state to stop following the same public health guidance that we’ve had in place for many months,” Gov. Brian Kemp said at a press conference on Tuesday at the state Capitol.
The first batch of doses will be marked for healthcare workers and long-term care facility residents and staff only, according to Kathleen Toomey, commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Health.
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“That will allow us to provide vaccine initially to the most vulnerable as well as those who are most at risk because of the work they do,” she said.
The batch would vaccinate half as many Georgians as there are doses since both vaccines that applied for emergency use authorization with the U.S. Food & Drug Administration require two doses.
It’s unclear how many doses of the vaccine will go to the DeKalb County Board of Health, according to Director Sandra Ford.
“Vaccine will be distributed to local boards of health, as well as other enrolled providers such as hospitals and long-term care facilities,” she told Decaturish.
The first batch of vaccine doses will not cover all of the state’s healthcare workers and long-term care facility residents and staff, according to Toomey.
“We hope by certainly early January that we’ll have all healthcare workers covered,” she said.
The next batch of vaccine doses will go to essential workers and those over age 65 with multiple health conditions, according to Toomey.
State public health officials used the flu vaccine distribution plan as a model to build upon for COVID-19 vaccine distribution. They’ve been coordinating with county health departments, hospitals, private sector providers and others about the plan for months, according to Toomey.
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Kemp extended his Public Health State of Emergency orders on Nov. 30. The latest orders included a provision that will make it easier to distribute a vaccine.
Kemp did not announce any new public health restrictions on Tuesday despite the latest surge in infections. Georgia is now nearing 500,000 COVID-19 cases since the pandemic began.
“This long nationwide nightmare will end,” he said. “The vaccine is on its way. Therapeutics as we know are getting more plentiful by the day.”
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