DeKalb will offer COVID-19 vaccine to the public next week, reduce locations for testing

201231-Decatur-Hannah Campbell, an environmental health specialist with the DeKalb County Board of Health, receives one of the first Covid-19 vaccines from registered nurse Grace Burton at the Board of Health’s offices in Decatur on Friday morning, Dec. 31, 2020. Ben Gray for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution
201231-Decatur-Hannah Campbell, an environmental health specialist with the DeKalb County Board of Health, receives one of the first Covid-19 vaccines from registered nurse Grace Burton at the Board of Health’s offices in Decatur on Friday morning, Dec. 31, 2020. Ben Gray for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Credit: Ben Gray

Credit: Ben Gray

UPDATE [noon Friday]: DeKalb County has released additional information on how seniors can register to receive a COVID-19 vaccination. Click here for more information.

ORIGINAL STORY: DeKalb County announced it will begin distributing COVID-19 vaccines to the public next week. In the meantime, it is closing its three coronavirus testing sites through Saturday in order to prepare.

Starting Monday, the DeKalb County Board of Health will offer COVID-19 vaccines to adults 65 and older along with their caretakers. Vaccinations will be offered at two of the county’s drive-thru testing locations: the BrandsMart USA site in Doraville, 5000 Motors Industrial Way, and the former Sam’s Club site in Stonecrest, 2994 Turner Hill Road.

DeKalb has received 8,200 vaccine doses, according to Board of Health spokesman Eric Nickens. He added that it’s possible the county will receive additional doses by Monday, but he said that had not been confirmed.

Information on vaccination hours and how the public can register will be released later this week, Nickens told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Vaccinations will be by appointment only.

The Board of Health said in a news release the testing suspension at its three testing sites around the county is necessary “due to increased demand to quickly provide vaccines to healthcare workers.”

DeKalb’s COVID-19 testing will resume Monday at only one site: Greater Piney Grove Baptist Church at 1879 Glenwood Avenue. Appointments and registration is required and available at dekalbhealth.net/covid-19. Testing is free.

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For the next four days, the county will prioritize vaccinating healthcare workers, first responders and long-term care facility residents, which matches the Georgia Department of Public Health’s vaccine rollout plan. As the COVID-19 death toll continues to increase, the state’s vaccine distribution program has garnered criticism for being slower than anticipated.

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Anyone who scheduled a COVID-19 testing appointment for Wednesday through Saturday has been notified about rescheduling options and alternative testing locations, the release said.

Vaccine appointments for seniors could go quickly. Many elderly Georgians have had trouble finding places to get vaccinated.

The first doses of vaccines in Georgia were earmarked for health care workers and for residents and staff of nursing homes. Last week, Gov. Brian Kemp and State Health Commissioner Dr. Kathleen Toomey said that the program would be opened to those over age 65, as well as to police officers and firefighters, in parts of the state — they didn’t specify which — where there were surplus supplies.

Shortly after Kemp made his announcement, the health department serving Gwinnett, Newton and Rockdale counties updated its website to offer vaccinations to the additional groups. By Saturday, the appointments were fully booked, said department spokesman Chad Wasdin.

This week, Morehouse School of Medicine announced it will offer COVID-19 vaccines to elderly Georgians during the next three weekends in January. To register, visit https://www.msm.edu/news-center/coronavirusadvisory/Vaccinations/communityvaccineevent.php.

For more information on COVID-19 vaccines, visit dph.georgia.gov/covid-vaccine or call 888-357-0169.

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