Kemp says Atlanta’s teachers can’t move up the vaccine line

Gov. Brian Kemp is shown in this photo taken on  Feb. 3, 2021. Alyssa Pointer / AJC FILE PHOTO

Credit: Alyssa Pointer /

Credit: Alyssa Pointer /

Gov. Brian Kemp is shown in this photo taken on Feb. 3, 2021. Alyssa Pointer / AJC FILE PHOTO

Gov. Brian Kemp denied a request from the Atlanta Board of Education to move teachers higher up in the line for vaccines, saying the state doesn’t have enough supply and that schools are safe to reopen.

On Monday, the school board unanimously approved a resolution urging the state to begin vaccinating teachers.

Teachers are currently scheduled to receive vaccines as part of the state’s second wave, and may not get vaccinated until April at the earliest, the district said. Currently, health care workers, nursing home residents and staff, law enforcement and people age 65 and older are eligible for vaccines.

Kemp said the state doesn’t have enough of the vaccine to expand the program.

“We have over 2 million Georgians eligible to get the vaccine today, including over 1.3 million seniors. While we have made extraordinary progress — administering over 1 million doses to over 800,000 Georgians and 500,000 seniors — we have a long, tough journey ahead of us,” he wrote in a letter he posted to Twitter on Friday and also sent to the board.

In January, Georgia expanded vaccine eligibility to include those 65 and older, which significantly increased the number of people on the list.

Kemp pointed to “well-established science and public health data” that he said “strongly supports in-person learning.”

The governor said that with the district’s mask mandate and millions in federal pandemic aid that APS can “move forward — safely — with in-person learning as we await more vaccine supply.”

”Dozens of school districts across our state have done so since last fall before any vaccine was first available to Georgians,” he wrote. “Our students cannot wait to go back to school. They have waited long enough.”

APS moved to online learning in March as the coronavirus began to spread.

The district gave students in prekindergarten through second grade as well as some special education students the option to return to in-person learning Jan. 25. Students in grades three through five can return Monday. Atlanta’s middle and high school buildings will reopen Feb. 16.