Despite a meager and sporadic supply of COVID-19 vaccine, Northwest Georgia county health departments have been immunizing local healthcare workers and EMS personnel for the past couple of weeks, according to Dr. Gary Voccio, health director for the 10-county Georgia Department of Public Health Northwest Health District.
“We wish we had enough vaccine available for everyone who wants it right now and regret we do not," he said. "Until vaccine becomes more readily available, we ask for your patience and understanding. Everyone who desires the COVID-19 vaccine will ultimately be able to get it."
“Our vaccine supply is slowly improving, and we’re going to begin providing immunizations to more Northwest Georgia residents and workers," he said. "Our ability to do so will still be contingent on vaccine supply.”
COVID-19 vaccine supply in Northwest Georgia remains very limited, but in anticipation of expected increases, Northwest Georgia county health departments in Bartow, Catoosa, Chattooga, Dade, Floyd, Gordon, Paulding, Polk and Walker counties are now accepting online and direct registration from eligible residents to be notified when vaccine is available locally for their immunization. Current eligibility depends on being in one of the groups specified in Phase 1A+ of Georgia’s COVID-19 Vaccination Plan.
Eligible for vaccination in Phase 1 A+ are healthcare workers (physicians, nurses, laboratory technicians, EMS personnel, environmental services, etc.), adults aged 65 and older and their caregivers, law enforcement, firefighters and first responders.
Residents and staff of long-term care facilities are also eligible for immunizations in Phase 1A+, but those are being administered directly by two major retail pharmacies as part of a federal program.
Eligible individuals may register two different ways. They can call their local county health department or go to the Georgia Department of Public Health Northwest Health District website (nwgapublichealth.org) to register.
Links to registration portals are available on health department Facebook page posts. Residents are encouraged to follow their local county health department on Facebook for important information about COVID-19 vaccinations.
People registering online are reminded to make sure they register correctly and completely. There are two registration portals, both clearly identified. One is for healthcare providers and workers (https://nwgapublichealth.org/provider-enrollment-covid19/). The other is for adults 65 and older and their caregivers, law enforcement, firefighters and first responders (https://nwgapublichealth.org/covid-19-vaccine-registration/).
Regardless of how people register, they will be notified when COVID-19 vaccine is available locally for their immunization.
“We are uncertain how long that might be,” said Northwest Health District Program Manager and Director of Business Operations Nichole Crick. “Please be patient. We will notify you immediately when there is adequate vaccine available locally to schedule your immunization.”
“All immunizations will be by appointment only. We cannot accommodate walk-ins until a more reliable and plentiful supply of vaccine is available,” Crick said.
Crick reminds that subsequent phases of Georgia’s COVID-19 Vaccination Plan will expand eligibility for immunization to additional groups and encourages people to follow the news and monitor the Georgia Department of Public Health website (dph.ga.gov), the Northwest Health District website (nwgapublichealth.org) and their local county health department Facebook page for announcements about vaccination phases and other important immunization issues, including vaccine safety.
“As vaccination begins to open for larger portions of the population, it is important to remember that public health will not be the only provider for COVID-19 vaccinations” Crick said. Please, begin looking for information about other providers in your area.”
For more information about Georgia’s COVID-19 Vaccination Plan, visit https://dph.georgia.gov/covid-vaccine.
To download a comprehensive COVID-19 Vaccine General FAQ, visit https://dph.georgia.gov/media/63686/download.