SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - With expanded options for the covid-19 vaccine becoming a reality here in Georgia.
We’re digging deeper into what that might look like for our area. Dr. Lawton Davis, the Director of the Coastal Health District says they have a lot to do.
It’s been more than two weeks since the first healthcare professionals got their COVID-19 vaccine. Dr. Lawton Davis with the Coastal Health District says they are more than halfway through phase 1a and will begin preparing to expand access.
“This is very exciting, and I know that people are anxious to get vaccinated especially those in our more vulnerable populations. Likewise, we’re anxious to vaccinate as many people as we can as quickly as possible but there are a lot of moving parts and we are asking for the publics’ patience as we navigate the process,” Dr. Davis said.
The expanded phase is set to begin on January 11 to include all first responders, adults 65 and over, in addition to their caregivers. Public health leaders say they are making plans for this much larger group with more to come Wednesday of next week, but say it isn’t easy especially as they begin administering the second dose of the vaccine to those who’ve gotten their first shot.
“We’re not only continuing to try to get medical providers in to receive their first dose and in two weeks we’ll be trying to get everybody 65 and over who want it in to try and get their first dose, but we’ll simultaneously be getting second doses and so that really just adds a second layer of complexity.”
A rough estimate from Dr. Davis shows about 110,000 people in the Coastal Health District qualify in the expanded phase. He knows public health won’t be able to vaccinate them alone, so they are asking for help from local hospitals, pharmacies, health centers, and more. While the process is moving forward soon, it will take time depending on supply.
“Being able to vaccinate everybody 65 and over etcetera is going to depend on availability. We just talked about needing roughly 220 thousand doses. I mean in Georgia so far we’re only got roughly 5 or 600,000 for the whole state.”
As they prepare to continue vaccinations, Dr. Davis urges caution as we watch cases of COVID-19 surge.
“Even as we’re rolling out the vaccine that gives optimism um you know, the reality is that we’re in the middle of a big surge and people need to be careful.”