Starting Thursday, all Georgians age 16 and above are eligible for COVID-19 vaccination.
Gov. Brian Kemp made the announcement Tuesday, saying supplies of the vaccine continue to rise and that he’s confident that enough older adults have been vaccinated to open up inoculation to the broadest possible population.
Georgia joins Alaska, Mississippi, Utah and West Virginia in offering the vaccine to everyone at least 16 years old. Texas, Louisiana, Ohio, Oklahoma and North Dakota plan to lower their vaccination eligibility to all adults on Monday.
Florida’s age to get a vaccination remains 50 and up unless you have a doctor’s note about a complicating health condition or caregivers accompanying a qualifying adult. Gov. Ron DeSantis has hinted that that age could be dropped to 40 soon and the age limit eliminated sometime next month.
Araceli Amaro-Smart, a 16-year-old who lives in Camden County, told News4Jax she wants to wait to get the vaccine. She said she switched to virtual learning for the spring semester after being sent home from school several times due to COVID-19 precautions.
“I just felt it was safer for me to do virtual and not me be in school,” Amaro-Smart said.
She said she’s glad she has the option to get the vaccine if she changes her mind.
Notably, Pfizer is the only COVID vaccine approved for 16 and 17-year-olds.
Figures from the Georgia Department of Public Health show the state has administered 3.2 million doses overall, with nearly 2.1 million people getting at least one dose.
The number of doses being administered has shown a clear upward trend in recent weeks, with a peak of more than 85,000 doses given on March 15, the first day that Kemp expanded eligibility to current levels.
Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium got a boost in capacity on Thursday when the Federal Emergency Management Agency added doses to a site that had been run by Fulton County.
Data show demand outstripping supply in metro Atlanta, while appointments are abundant in other areas. Kemp said the state-directed 70% of this week’s 450,000 doses to metro Atlanta and areas north of the city “to put more supply where the demand is highest.”
“In much of rural Georgia, south of Macon, the demand is much lower,” Kemp said Tuesday.
Kemp said he would get vaccinated Friday in Waycross to try to highlight the availability of vaccines and the desirability to rural residents of getting protected.
Georgia continues to lag most other states in vaccination, ranking second-worst behind Alabama in the number of doses administered per 100,000 people 18 and older.
Since March 15, people 55 and older, people with serious health conditions and those who are overweight and obese have been eligible. 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. That’s
Kemp continues to focus on the state’s relative success in vaccinating people over 65, saying vaccinations of that older population has now topped 1 million, or about three-quarters of that population.