How Middle Georgia handled Covid vaccine distribution

The long awaited Covid vaccine arrived in Georgia in December of 2020. A year later, more than 50% of Georgians are fully vaccinated.

MACON, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) — The long awaited Covid vaccine arrived in Georgia in December of 2020. A year later, more than 50% of Georgians are fully vaccinated.

In December of 2020, the FDA issued Emergency Use Authorizations for the two dose Pfizer and Moderna Covid vaccines.

Healthcare workers, those with increased risk for severe illness from Covid-19, and people living and working in long-term care facilities were the first eligible for the vaccine.

In February, the FDA issued an Emergency Use Authorization for the one dose Johnson and Johnson vaccine.

Georgia opened four mass vaccination sites that same month, including one in Macon. The drive through style sites administered the Pfizer vaccine. Governor Brian Kemp visited the Macon site at the State Farmers Market, several days before it opened.

“Our goal is to make sure that as we have supply that we vaccinate every single Georgian that wants the vaccine as quickly as possible,” he said.

Vaccine eligibility expanded twice in March, first for people over the age of 55 and then people with disabilities and certain medical conditions.

By the end of March, all Georgians over the age of 16 could get a Covid vaccine. Dawn Ross, Chief Clinical Informatics Officer for Atrium Health Navicent, told us in March the side effects for the vaccine are commonly confused with how your body is supposed to react.

“I understand being nervous, it seems very new,” she said. “But the vaccine is well tested. Millions of people have received it now. It’s studied, it’s safe, and you should get one.”

At the end of April, the state’s mass vaccination sites began administering the one dose Johnson and Johnson vaccine and the second dose of the Pfizer vaccine to coincide with closing the sites.

The eight state run mass vaccination sites closed for good on May 21.

Kerry Futch, the site manager for the Macon mass vaccination site, said they administered more than 53,700 vaccine doses.

“We were able to come in and provide the vaccines and do a pretty good push,” he said. “Now there’s vaccines available at pretty much any place you can go.”

Pfizer was and still is the only vaccine available to anyone over the age of 16. In May, the FDA authorized an emergency use for the Pfizer vaccine for kids ages 12 to 15. By the end of October, it authorized another emergency use for the Pfizer vaccine for kids ages five and up.

Since then, Michael Hokanson, Public Information Officer with the North Central Health District, said about 500 kids ages five to nine received at least one dose of the Pfizer vaccine in the areas they serve. About 7,000 kids ages 10 to 14 had received theirs.

“We’re not seeing huge increases in vaccination rates within our 13 county district,” he said. “That particular age group is still lesser than the state average.”

As of December 15, nearly 1,500 kids ages five to nine had received at least one dose of the Covid vaccine, while nearly 8,000 kids ages 10 to 14 had received theirs.

To find where you can get a Covid vaccine near you, click here.

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