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Vaccines for Georgians 65+ scheduled to start next week

The Georgia Department of Public Health’s Phase1a+ of vaccine distribution will take effect next week, starting Monday.

Phase 1a+ expands eligibility from just healthcare workers and long-term care staff and residents to adults 65 and older, law enforcement, firefighters and first responders.

According to Georgia DPH’s vaccine order list, Holmes Pharmacy in LaGrange requested and was allocated 100 doses of the Moderna vaccine. The Troup County Health Department requested 975 doses of the Pfizer vaccine and 900 doses of the Moderna vaccine. It was allocated 900 Moderna doses but no Pfizer doses.

District 4 Public Health spokesperson Hayla Folden said that list only contains allocations and not vaccines that have actually been delivered. 

“What we have received is not nearly that high,” she said.

Vaccinations can begin next week for Georgians over 65, but whether they will be available is another question, Folden said.

Folden said eligible individuals can sign up through healthcare providers, as DPH does not have its own registration system. She wasn’t sure how many Troup or District 4 residents had been vaccinated so far as “we have been so busy planning and vaccinating that we haven’t stopped to count.”

Folden said DPH had no way of knowing how many people have refused the vaccine. She also has no way of knowing whether all healthcare workers and long-term care facility workers and residents who wanted a vaccine had received one.

According to the Georgia Department of Public Health, as a whole the state of Georgia has been allocated 626,100 vaccine doses and only 511,025 have been shipped. Of those, only 123,030 have been administered.

The exact numbers for Troup County are unavailable, but workers at Emory of LaGrange and Wellstar West Georgia Medical Center have begun receiving vaccines. District 4 has vaccinated some police, firefighters and first responders in Troup County. 

Holmes Pharmacy owner Perry Prather said his clinic was almost out of the 100 doses it received. They are supposed to receive more any day now, he said, ahead of the expanded eligibility that starts next week.

“We have, you know, 400 or 500 names, no joke, waiting of 65 and over to get the vaccine,” Prather said.

According to Becker’s Hospital Review, a healthcare publication, as of Wednesday, Georgia ranked dead last in the percentage of distributed vaccines that have been administered, at 17.42 percent.

“Nobody has enough vaccines to do that many at one time until we get them. So again, it’s all logistics … they’re [public health departments] trying to get them but I mean I could only imagine what they’re trying to accomplish,” Prather said.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention COVID Data Tracker, Georgia is 49th in people per 100,000 who have received their first dose, at 978 per 100,000.

As of Thursday, Troup County has averaged 30 cases of COVID-19 per day over the past week, according to DPH data. The rate has doubled over the past month. It is five times what it was two months ago.

The positivity rate over the past week was 26 percent. It was 15 percent a month ago and 6 percent two months ago. 

The positivity rate is the highest since late April, when testing capacity was much lower than it is now.