Georgia Governor Announces Expansion of COVID Vaccine Distribution

The state will also include law enforcement, first responders and firefighters in the expansion.

ATLANTA — Georgia Governor Brian Kemp along with Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Kathleen Toomey announced plans late Wednesday to expand COVID-19 vaccinations to adults 65 and older, as well as to law enforcement officers, firefighters and first responders across the state.

Healthcare workers as well as staff and residents of long-term care facilities are already at the highest level and receiving coronavirus vaccines.

Kemp said he would provide further details at a press conference scheduled for 9 a.m. Thursday. will be broadcasting live coverage.

Expanded administration of the vaccine is expected to begin within the next two weeks, provided there is a sufficient supply, according to Wednesday evening statements from the governor and the Department of Public Health.

According to Kemp’s statement, DPH is following recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to prioritize vaccinations statewide.

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Individual states were given the opportunity to tailor the recommendations based on their specific needs and available vaccines.

“Following expert advice from Dr. Toomey, the CDC, and the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, Georgia will expand Phase 1a vaccination criteria over the next two weeks to include the elderly, law enforcement law enforcement, firefighters and first responders – provided the state continues to receive adequate vaccine supplies,” Kemp said in the statement. “We will continue to monitor the administrative efforts of our public health workers and partners private sector, as well as the Moderna and Pfizer vaccine supply chain to ensure eligible Georgians are vaccinated without delay.”

According to Toomey, different areas of the state complete Phase 1a at different times, depending on how many healthcare workers and long-term care facility residents and staff they need to vaccinate.

RELATED: Georgia COVID-19 data | Interactive map of the state

“This expansion of the 1a eligible vaccination criteria will allow the vaccine to be delivered as quickly as possible to our populations most at risk in terms of exposure, transmission and severity,” Toomey said in the statement. “It also gives healthcare providers and public health staff time to plan and work with local communities across the state to ensure safe and efficient deployment of limited vaccine supplies.

Both Toomey and Kemp stressed that mask-wearing, social distancing and hand-washing should always be practiced, even after individuals have been vaccinated.

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Although the vaccine is up to 95% effective in preventing disease in vaccinated people, it is not yet known whether it completely prevents human-to-human transmission or asymptomatic infections.

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