DeKalb’s ‘very limited supply’ of vaccines unlikely to change soon

010721 DORAVILLE: Moderna COVID-19 vaccines sit on a tray as they are prepared to be administered to health care workers at the DeKalb COVID-19 BrandsMart USA drive through testing site on Thursday, Jan. 7, 2021, in Doraville.   Curtis Compton / Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
010721 DORAVILLE: Moderna COVID-19 vaccines sit on a tray as they are prepared to be administered to health care workers at the DeKalb COVID-19 BrandsMart USA drive through testing site on Thursday, Jan. 7, 2021, in Doraville. Curtis Compton / Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

The DeKalb County Board of Health re-opened online registration for the COVID-19 vaccine at 1 p.m. Thursday, making 1,000 new slots available.

They were claimed in less than an hour.

And Dr. Sandra Ford, DeKalb’s district health director, said folks shouldn’t expect things to be dramatically different anytime soon. During a Thursday afternoon health board meeting, she reiterated that her department’s priority is reserving second doses of the vaccine for those who have already gotten the first.

That means even more of a crunch on the limited, often unpredictable supply passed down from the state.

“There will be a very limited supply of new first doses until we get everyone completely immunized,” Ford said.

Ford said DeKalb’s health department had vaccinated around 13,000 people in the month or so since it began receiving doses. That does not include vaccinations administered at long-term care facilities or through other entities like grocery stores.

Only residents in group 1A+ — which includes those over 65 years old and caregivers, as well as healthcare workers and first responders — are currently eligible to be vaccinated.

The administration of President Joe Biden has said it will increase the vaccine distribution to states by about 16% in coming weeks. Ford, who also serves as president-elect of the National Association of County and City Health Officials, said she’s been encouraged by that and other conversations with the new administration.

But there are still more questions than answers, which means continued frustration for vaccine seekers.

Thursday’s brief window for new appointments in DeKalb came nearly a week after another 3,000 registrations were scooped up within several hours. Before that, registration had been closed for nearly two weeks.

“Until we get a reliable supply, it’s a real challenge for us to have an aggressive vaccination plan,” Ford said.

Eligible residents can sign up for vaccinations through the DeKalb Board of Health by visiting dekalbhealth.net or calling 404-294-3700 — when appointments are available.

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