Health care workers in Georgia began to receive the coronavirus vaccine on Monday.
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp’s office said shipments received Monday included 5,850 doses of the Pfizer vaccine for the first in a two-dose series. The Coastal Health District began vaccinating front line nurses on Monday, and a broader program “for high priority individuals” in Chatham, Glynn and surrounding counties will begin Tuesday.
“This is unbelievably exciting,” Lawton Davis, M.D., director of the Coastal Health District, said Monday. “It is anticipated that we will be able to roll this out to other members of the top priority group tomorrow.”
Kemp and Dr. Kathleen Toomey, state public health commissioner, planned to be at the Chatham County Health Department in Savannah on Tuesday for a vaccine shipment.
Kemp has previously said most Georgians will have to wait several months before they can get a shot. Toomey has said that vaccinating 10 million Georgia residents will likely take until summer.
In the meantime, Kemp has urged people to wear masks, wash their hands and “continue more than ever to watch our distance.”
The Pfizer vaccine was just approved by the FDA for emergency use last week.
Florida will have 100,000 doses of the vaccine for five hospitals -- including UF Health Jacksonville, where multiple health care works were vaccinated Monday -- by Tuesday.
CVS and Walgreens pharmacies in Florida will also receive 60,000 doses to distribute at long-term care facilities, and the state will get 20,000 to administer at care facilities, as well.
Dr. Kevin Duane, owner of Panama Pharmacy, said he and other private pharmacists are ready to help.
“There are something like 3 to 500,000 persons who live and work in assisted-living facilities and nursing homes only,” Duane said. “So it’s going to take quite a little while for us to make sure that we can get all the eligible 20+ million persons in the state of Florida vaccinated.”
But he believes it will be fair, and people in rural areas will have just as much access as those in the bigger cities if they choose to get it.
“The vaccine itself is new, but the technology behind it is not,” Duane said. “We’ve been using the technology behind it for quite some time in other trials and other diseases like Zika virus for example.”
Duane said his pharmacy is also getting a lot of questions about cost and insurance. He wants to point out it’s free; the government is funding this, so someone who receives the vaccine will never get a bill.