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Georgia Dept. of Public Health to begin Phase 1B vaccinations



AUGUSTA, Ga. — Just weeks after the first shipment of the COVID-19 vaccine arrived in Augusta, the Georgia Department of Public Health is preparing to vaccinate first responders and people ages 65 and older. It has set up a drive-thru vaccination site at Craig-Houghton Elementary School, and will begin vaccinating individuals in this phase on Monday.

“We’re going to put as many people through as we can,” Susan Beckham, the East Central Health District Emergency Preparedness Director, says. “We’re getting faster and more efficient every day.”

DPH has vaccinated nearly 3,000 people at its site in Augusta. People are getting more eager to get vaccinated each day.

“What we’re experiencing right now is that the vaccine supply in the country and in Georgia is less than the demand,” Dr. Stephen Goggans, DPH’s District Health Director, says. “Coming in, we knew that vaccine rollout was going to have to build over time.”

The vaccine roll-out has been slow, but teams throughout Augusta are working quickly to vaccinate people as quickly as possible. More than 5,400 people have been vaccinated at Augusta University Health. An additional 1,100 people have been inoculated at Doctors Hospital. As more vaccine shipments are sent to Georgia, the vaccination process will likely speed up.

“We’re going to have to have more sites operating,” Goggans says. “That is dependent on vaccine supply. Assuming that comes through, there will be hundreds or even thousands of places where people can get vaccinated.”

The vaccination process will be slow. But, Dr. Goggans is hopeful the general public will be vaccinated soon.

“Over the next few months, we’re going to see a tremendous difference.”