Two days after expanding eligibility for the COVID-19 vaccine to school teachers, Georgia announced Wednesday that everyone 55 and older, plus younger adults with serious health conditions could receive a shot beginning Monday.
Gov. Brian Kemp made the announcement Wednesday amid signs in recent days that supply is exceeding demand for vaccines in Georgia, with some appointments at pharmacies going unclaimed around the state.
State figures show more than 800,000 doses of vaccine have shipped but not been administered, and that fewer shots were given in the week ending March 7 than in the last week of February.
“We will continue to encourage all eligible Georgians not to wait to get their dose," the Republican Kemp said. "This vaccine, as we have said many times, is safe, is effective, and it’s our ticket back to normal.”
In Bulloch County, vaccine providers received an additional 3,400 doses this week, and have received 22,800 vaccines in total according to the Georgia Department of Health website. So far, 19,138 local vaccines have been administered, including 7,668 second doses.
Right now, people eligible in Georgia include those 65 and older, teachers, emergency workers, medical workers, employees and residents of long-term care facilities, intellectually disabled adults and caregivers of some children with medical conditions.
Among adults younger than 55 who will qualify include those who have asthma, cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease or kidney disease. Those who are overweight and obese will also qualify.
Bulloch schools clinic
On Friday, the Bulloch County Schools system will offer the first of two scheduled drive-thru COVID-19 vaccination clinics that will be open to all employees of the school system, including substitute teachers and temporary workers. The second clinic is set for March 19.
Both clinics will be held at the Bulloch County Health Department on West Altman Street in Statesboro, and vaccines will be administered between 2:30–4:30 p.m. both days. Shots will be given by appointment only, said Hayley Greene, public relations director for the schools system. Each clinic will be drive-thru and everyone must stay in their vehicles.
Greene said a link to make an appointment was sent to the email account of all employees and is available at www.bullochschools.org/vaccine. The website will allow employees to select the day and time they wish to come.
Greene said each clinic will accommodate up to 200 appointments. If needed, a third clinic is tentatively set for March 26.
Kemp said if vaccine supplies keep increasing, he wants to soon make them available to everyone 16 and older.
“It is our intent to open up vaccination for all adults early next month,” Kemp said.
Some other states in recent days had already increased the number of people eligible.
Alaska’s governor on Tuesday announced that his state will become the first in the nation to allow anyone 16 or older who lives or works in the state to get a vaccine.
Local/state COVID cases
Bulloch County reported only three news cases for Monday and Tuesday, the lowest two-day total since two cases were recorded nine months ago on June 8-9.
Public Safety/Emergency Management Agency Director Ted Wynn one news case was reported Monday and two on Tuesday. Wynn said Bulloch now has a total of 5,103 confirmed cases since the pandemic began in March 2020. The COVID cases have resulted in 52 confirmed deaths and 206 local residents being hospitalized since the pandemic began in March.
Across the state, there were 1,185 new cases on Wednesday and 1,062 on Tuesday. The state's total number of confirmed cases is now up to 831, 271.
The state reported 60 deaths on Wednesday and 10 on Tuesday. Georgia’s death toll now stands at 15,706 since March 2020.
Through Wednesday afternoon, 2,478,115 vaccinations have been administered in Georgia — a total that includes 971,858 second doses, according to the Department of Public Health.
Bulloch residents are urged to contact private providers such as East Georgia Regional Medical Center and local pharmacies directly to see if a vaccine appointment is available.
The only way to schedule an appointment at the Bulloch Health Department is to call (855) 473-4374. Officials asked callers to be patient while on hold to make an appointment.
If an appointment is not available at the Altman St. office in Statesboro, they can schedule an appointment at any of the health departments in the area through the same appointment number.
Wynn said East Georgia Regional Medical Center staff on Wednesday were caring for seven COVID patients, with two patients on ventilators.
National case numbers
According to statistics from the Johns Hopkins University of Medicine, as of Wednesday afternoon, 528,652 Americans had died from coronavirus. Also, Johns Hopkins reported the U.S. has had 29,137,386 confirmed cases since the start of the pandemic.
The Bulloch County Schools system reported one new case so far this week, and a total of 600 COVID cases since classes started on Aug. 17.
Georgia Southern had 20 total cases reported March 1–7 — 15 self-reported and five university-confirmed cases. GS reported 21 total cases for the week of Feb. 22–28.
The 20 new coronavirus cases include 12 on the Statesboro campus, eight on the Armstrong-Savannah campus and none on the Liberty campus in Hinesville.
East Georgia State College reported one new case across its three campuses on Tuesday. The college has had a total of 154 cases across its three campuses since Aug. 17.
Ogeechee Technical College reported two new cases on the Statesboro campus for the week of March 1–7. Ogeechee Tech has had a total of 69 cases across its campuses since Aug. 17.
COVID-19 testing operated by Mako Medical is available at Luetta Moore Park, 585 Martin Luther King Drive.
Testing schedule: Monday, Wednesday — 8 a.m.–3 p.m.; Tuesday, Thursday — 10 a.m.–6 p.m.; Friday — 9 a.m.–4 p.m.; second and fourth Saturday of each month — 8:30 a.m.–12:30 p.m.
To register, visit https://mako.exchange/splash/GAmakotesting/.