ATLANTA — Gov. Brian Kemp announced on Tuesday that any Georgian 16 and over can get the COVID-19 vaccine starting Thursday, March 25.
He made the announcement during a press conference at the State Capitol with Georgia Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Kathleen Toomey and Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency Director Chris Stallings.
Kemp had previously said that his goal was to open up eligibility to all adults by early April.
"I just want to encourage everyone to get the vaccine," the governor said. “This is our ticket back to normal.”
He said in some parts of the state, they have seen vaccine hesitancy.
"That is concerning," Kemp said. "People should not be hesitant. This is a medical miracle. It's safe, it's effective."
Prior to this, only adults 55 and over, adults over 16 with prior health conditions, teachers, healthcare workers, law enforcement, fire and first responders, judges and court staff, parents of children with complex medical conditions and caregivers were eligible.
With the help of FEMA and the Dept. of Defense, the the mass-vaccination site at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Fulton County is expected to be the largest in the southeast. They said they hope to vaccinate 42,000 people a week for eight weeks at this location.
There are also eight state-run mass-vaccination sites where you can get a coronavirus vaccine. To get an appointment at one of these locations, visit myvaccinegeorgia.com.
With the new expansion, Dr. Amber Schmidtke, who analyzes Georgia’s vaccine response in her online Daily Digest, said there's bound to be a boom for demand.
“There’s probably going to be a lot of people trying to get it all at once," she said.
But, she added that demand is good; around 75% of the state's population will need to be fully-vaccinated to achieve herd immunity, and Georgia’s population of those 16 and older is right at around that mark.
“That would mean that we need every single adult in the state of Georgia to take the vaccine," she explained. "We’re not really seeing that in the state, so far, when it comes to vaccine hesitancy. So, I think that we’re going to struggle, really, to get to that herd immunity, until we see a pediatric vaccine authorized for use.”
Georgians can still make appointments for vaccines at local and county health departments as well as private pharmacies, such as Publix, Kroger, Walmart, Walgreens and CVS.
It is important to note that for those aged 16 and 17, Pfizer is the only vaccine currently approved for these ages, according to the Dept. of Public Health.
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