Coastal Georgia health officials urge patience in sign ups for COVID-19 vaccinations

Appointments full until health officials can secure additional vaccines

The Southeast Georgia Health District that began scheduling appointments for COVID-19 vaccinations for those 65-years-old and older and their caregivers on Thursday has been overwhelmed by demand.

Emergency first responders, healthcare workers and residents and staff of long-term care facilities are also eligible for the vaccine during the current phase.

The Coastal Health District, which serves the counties of Bryan, Camden, Chatham, Effingham, Glynn, Liberty, Long and McIntosh, said there are about 100,000 people in that age group in the area. By Monday morning, all appointments are gone. Residents can go to covid19.gachd.org to register to be notified when appointments open back up. Registering online does not guarantee a vaccination appointment, it just gives state health officials a way to notify residents when the appointment process is back underway.

“Our health department staff is working hard to get thousands of people scheduled for vaccination, but we need to hit the pause button – at least for a little while – so we can manage the current volume of requests,” said Dr. Lawton Davis, director for the Coastal Health District. “It is also my sincere hope that in the very near future, more providers will have the vaccine so there are more places for folks to get vaccinated.”

“As both Pfizer and Moderna are able to ramp up production of vaccine in the coming weeks, supply should better meet demand for each phase of allocation and administration,” the state said in a statement on Sunday. “Until that time, providers and the public are urged to be patient as we work together to get vaccine distributed in the most efficient and equitable way possible.”

LINK: Georgia Department of Public Health’s vaccine locator | More information

“Add to that the healthcare workers and first responders, and the fact that each person must be seen again for a second dose, and it’s simply more than public health can accomplish effectively in a short time span,” the district said in a press release. “We are hearing from residents who are frustrated by our overwhelmed phone lines and understaffed phone banks, and we are frustrated, too. We’re adding staff and phones. We’ve cut other services and we’re working weekends. We place regular orders for the vaccine, but it’s also important to note that we don’t have an unlimited supply.”

“This is a monumental effort that will require a whole community response. We sincerely hope that shortly there will be a community-wide network of providers (pharmacies, private physicians, health clinics, etc.) giving vaccinations which will help tremendously. But until then, we clearly have some obstacles to overcome and we’re working to try to make the process smoother, all the while continuing to provide COVID-19 testing and other essential public health services. Your health department is staffed by a dedicated, scrappy bunch, but we are small and the task is large. The systems will improve over time, but we ask for your patience,” the district said.