WAYCROSS, Ga. – In an effort to encourage Georgians outside the metro Atlanta area to get vaccines, Gov. Brian Kemp traveled to Waycross on Friday afternoon to tour the mass vaccination site at the Waycross Mall and then receive his COVID-19 vaccine.
The largest vaccination site in Southeast Georgia opened just over a week ago.
Earlier this week, Kemp announced that all residents 16 and older would become eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine on Thursday, state emergency management officials said four of its regional sites -- including Waycross -- were accepting people without appointments, even though appointments were still encouraged.
Before sitting down to get a shot of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine along with his daughter, Amy, Kemp said the combination of allowing adults of any age to get the show and the dropping of appointments, numbers of vaccinations at state sites on Thursday surged -- jus about doubling in Waycross and exceeding 900 at the Savannah mass vaccination site, which is near its daily capacity.
Georgia had previously limited eligibility to people 55 and older, people with serious health conditions and those who are overweight and obese. Also eligible are preschool and K-12 education employees, medical workers, emergency workers, residents and employees of long-term care facilities, intellectually disabled adults, and parents of children with certain complicated medical conditions.
As of Friday afternoon, the Georgia Department of Public Health website showed nearly 3.5 million vaccines had been administered in the state, although its dashboard was offline so there was no updated data on how many of those were first shots and how many people were totally vaccinated. County-specific data is also not currently available.
Kemp said earlier this week the state was ready to expand eligibility to the broadest possible population, saying supplies of the vaccine continued to rise and he was confident that enough older adults had been vaccinated.
Southeastern Grocers on Friday announced it expanded its vaccine distribution in the Southeast into its Winn-Dixie and Harveys stores in several Georgia counties, including Camden and Glynn counties. Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer vaccines will available to all eligible groups by online appointment only beginning Saturday and administered starting Wednesday during regular pharmacy hours, while supplies last.