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Bulloch County lagging in COVID vaccinations
Only 17% have received at least one dose
Ted Wynn shot.jpg
In this file photo, Bulloch County Public Safety/Emergency Management Agency Director Ted Wynn receives a COVID-19 vaccine from Ben Ross, owner of Forest Heights Pharmacy on Country Club Road in Statesboro. Wynn said Friday the local COVID surge is approaching "unsustainable" status for local health teams.

About 29% of Georgia residents have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine to date, but the Georgia Department of Public Health website indicates Bulloch County lags far off that pace with only about 17% of residents, so far, getting at least one dose.

Acknowledging the need to get more Bulloch residents vaccinated, Katie Hadden, public information officer for the Southeast Health District said the Bulloch County Health Department will hold a drive-through COVID-19 vaccination clinic 8-11 a.m. on Saturday in Statesboro. The clinic is open to all 18 and older and will offer the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine. 

“We know sometimes it can be hard for people to get off from work, so we’re hoping the single-dose shot will allow more people the opportunity to get vaccinated,” Hadden said.

The Health Department is located at 1 West Altman Street and an appointment is required to receive a vaccination. Appointments are open from 8 to 11 a.m. To register, visit, and select the blue box that states, “Health Department Scheduling.” To make an appointment over the phone, call (855) 473-4374. 

A similar Georgia Public Health vaccine clinic held Wednesday in Cumming in Northeast Georgia was halted after eight people experienced “adverse reactions.”

One of the eight people at the vaccination site in Cumming was evaluated at a hospital and released, the Department of Public Health said Friday. The others were monitored and sent home.

In a release from the department on Friday, the reactions were described as “consistent with common reactions in adults being vaccinated with any vaccine, but due to the number of individuals affected, the site stopped the J&J vaccinations to evaluate.” 

Dr. Kathleen Toomey, commissioner of the Department of Health, said: “There is no reason to believe there is anything wrong with the vaccine itself, and other individuals who have received the J&J vaccine should not be concerned. We are looking into what happened and what may have caused the reactions, including the conditions at the fairgrounds such as heat and the ability to keep the site cool.”

Hadden said Saturday’s clinic in Statesboro will go on as scheduled and health officials are confident the vaccine is safe. But they do recognize the concerns some in the public have.

“After every vaccine is given, the patient waits for at least 15 minutes to see if there is any adverse reaction before they leave whatever health department site they received the shot,” Hadden said. “We will, of course, do the same with Saturday’s clinic in Statesboro and, given the added concerns from the public, we will be even more vigilant.”

Restrictions rolled back

Thursday, Gov. Brian Kemp declared that “Georgia is open for business,” loosening the restrictions he imposed last year to control the spread of the coronavirus by letting people sit closer together at restaurants and gather in larger crowds.

Under Kemp's new order, restaurant tables now must be only 3.5 feet (1.07 meters) apart without partitions, instead of the previous 6 feet (1.83 meters), and there’s no longer a 50-person limit on gatherings when people are closer than 6 feet, which could allow larger indoor concerts and conventions. He also says vulnerable residents no longer have to stay home under a shelter-in-place order.

Georgia has recorded more than 860,000 confirmed cases of the virus, but newly recorded cases continue to fall. The state has been averaging less than 1,000 new cases detected in recent days, the lowest level since last June. Also, the share of positive genetic tests for the virus has been below 5% in recent days, for the first time since widespread testing began last March.

But the share of Georgians who have been vaccinated remains among the lowest nationwide. Only 29% of Georgians have received at least one dose, the third worst among U.S. states and below the national average of 34%, according to CDC numbers. That’s far short of the 70% or more that many experts say would achieve the herd immunity needed to protect people still vulnerable to infection.

Georgia’s records show 4.57 million doses have been administered, while more than 1 million doses have been shipped and remain unused.

Some experts fear Kemp is sending a dangerous message when so many people remain unvaccinated.

“While the easing of the last remaining restrictions will put essential workers at an elevated risk, I think the message this sends will have broader impacts for the state as well,” wrote Amber Schmidtke, an epidemiologist who writes a briefing on Georgia's epidemic. “It will lead to a false sense of security among the population that the pandemic is over.”

Local/state COVID cases

Bulloch County had a total of three new cases of COVID-19 for Thursday and Friday and Public Safety/Emergency Management Agency Director Ted Wynn said Bulloch now has a total of 5,175 confirmed cases since the pandemic began in March 2020. The COVID cases have resulted in 62 confirmed deaths and 211 local residents being hospitalized since the pandemic began in March.

Also, the state Department of Health has reported 48 non-confirmed deaths, which represent Bulloch citizens who received a positive antigen/ rapid test for COVID-19, developed COVID-19 symptoms and then died.

Across the state, there were 1,140 new cases on Thursday and 1,085 on Friday. The state's total number of confirmed cases is now up to 860,393. 

The state reported 58 deaths on Thursday and 48 on Friday. Georgia’s death toll now stands at 16,930 since March 2020.

National cases

According to statistics from the Johns Hopkins University of Medicine, as of Friday afternoon, 560,946 Americans had died from coronavirus. Also, Johns Hopkins reported the U.S. has had 31,067,338 confirmed cases since the start of the pandemic.


Public Safety/Emergency Management Agency Director Ted Wynn said East Georgia Regional Medical Center staff on Friday were caring for four COVID patients, with one patient on a ventilator.

Bulloch Schools

The Bulloch County Schools system reported five new cases last week, and a total of 621 COVID cases since classes started on Aug. 17. Schools are on Spring break this week.

Local colleges

Georgia Southern had 12 total cases reported March 29-April 4 – seven self-reported and five university- confirmed cases. GS reported 27 total cases for the week of March 22-28.

Of the cases reported last week, 10 were on the Statesboro campus and two on the Armstrong Savannah campus.

East Georgia State College has reported no new cases across its three campuses since March 22. The college has had a total of 157 cases across its three campuses since Aug. 17.

Ogeechee Technical College has not reported any news COVID cases since the week of March 8-14. Ogeechee Tech has had a total of 70 cases across its campuses since Aug. 17.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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