Facing lagging vaccination rates, Kemp wants providers to think ‘outside the box’

Govenor Brian Kemp announces expanded vaccine sites across Georgia on Wednesday, March 3, 2021 at the Capital.  (Jenni Girtman for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
Govenor Brian Kemp announces expanded vaccine sites across Georgia on Wednesday, March 3, 2021 at the Capital. (Jenni Girtman for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Credit: Jenni Girtman

Credit: Jenni Girtman

As Georgia grapples with rock-bottom vaccination rates, Gov. Brian Kemp is encouraging more health care providers to think “outside the box.”

At a pop-up vaccine clinic at the St. Philip AME Church in east Atlanta, the governor encouraged other providers to follow the lead of Walgreens, which launched three events through the Metro Atlanta Ministerial Alliance across the city. Uber teamed up with the pharmacy chain to provide free rides to the clinics.

“It’s how we get the vaccine out into the community whether at a church, a civil club, a neighborhood, a homeowners association,” said Kemp, adding: “I know we have providers out there that have doses and could do things like this.”

Georgia is vaccinating people at a slower pace than any other U.S. state, according to federal data, and the state has consistently been near the bottom of the rankings since the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention began posting the figures.

Kemp and state health officials point to other figures, such as data that shows roughly two-thirds of Georgians 65 and older have received at least one vaccine shot, outpacing the national average.

The state’s vaccine infrastructure will be tested anew on Monday when eligibility dramatically expands. That includes people age 55 and older along with those with a broad range of health conditions, from asthma to being overweight. It covers more than two-thirds of adult Georgians.

“In most areas, we have more infrastructure than we have demand, and we weren’t saying that several weeks ago,” said Kemp, highlighting state mass-vaccination sites in rural Georgia. “There’s no doubt about it: We have the infrastructure and we have the vaccine. What we need is for more people to sign up at those sites.”

Demand for the vaccine is soaring in much of metro Atlanta, but vaccine tracking websites show availability in other parts of the state, particularly north Georgia and coastal areas. Five more mass vaccination sites open next week, joining four already in place, and Georgians can register by clicking here.

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