Gov. Kemp expands criteria for who will get COVID-19 vaccinations in first phase

ATLANTA — Gov. Brian Kemp said Georgia will be expanding the criteria for who will receive the COVID-19 vaccine in group 1A.

Kemp made the announcement on WSB-TV during our primetime special “COVID-19 Vaccine in Georgia.”

Kemp said the people allowed to now get the vaccine will include first responders and those over 65 years of age in certain parts of the state.

“What we’re see(ing) happening right now in the metro area is we have a really high demand of health care workers wanting to get the vaccine, and we really have more people than supply. In rural parts of the state, we have more vaccine and less demand. So we want to expand the criteria to allow those areas to start vaccinating our law enforcement, firefighters, people that are age 65,” Kemp said.

The governor said he and Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Kathleen Toomey had a meeting Wednesday with Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, to discuss the vaccine distribution.

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Toomey said the expansion has been a top priority for the safety of those most vulnerable for getting the virus, especially the elderly.

“I just want to say, 65 and older, if you look at that data, they are the most likely to have complications with COVID and to die from COVID, whether they’re in a long-term care facility or outside in the community,” Toomey said. “This expansion of 1a eligible vaccination criteria will allow vaccine to be administered as quickly as possible to our most at-risk populations in terms of exposure, transmission and severity. 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.”

Kemp said he thought the expansion would start around Jan. 10 or 11.

The state started receiving its first doses of the vaccine just over two weeks ago, which went to health care workers who had the potential to be exposed to the virus, as well as to staff and residents of long-term care facilities.

Kemp said the state is still working out the details and expects to release more information Thursday morning.


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