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Local hospitals struggle to fill open COVID-19 vaccination appointments



AUGUSTA, Ga. – In the beginning, it was hard to find a COVID vaccine shot if you wanted it. Now, local hospitals and health leaders have the opposite problem too many appointments and not enough people wanting to get the vaccine.

About 24 people walked into the new DFCS building to get their COVID vaccine today. Although a small number, the Department of Public Health says it accomplished what they hoped.

“We still see a need to go to folks who are not coming to us, hard-to-reach populations,” said Susan Beckham, East Central Health District DPH.

So Beckham and her team turned the Old Southside Elementary into a walk-in vaccine clinic. Several people said that they either walked to the clinic or drove over from a nearby neighborhood.

“At first, I was kind of apprehensive,” said Kaven Hutchinson.

Hutchinson received his vaccination today. He says he originally planned to get a COVID-19 shot through his primary care doctor, but this made it easy and he didn’t want to wait any longer.

“I do feel comfortable with my primary care because that’s who has been treating me for the past eight years,” he said.

East Central Health District DPH used to give about 750 to 800 shots a day at their main site, but yesterday it was down to 500. The department recently crossed 37,000 total vaccinations.

“We see across all of our counties right now open and unfilled appointments,” Beckham said.

Now, each walk-in clinic is a chance to reach someone who would’ve never come out otherwise.

“It’s a collaborative effort. It takes all of us, and it takes a lot of effort to get that many needles into arms,” Beckham said.

The DPH is doing another walk-in clinic tomorrow, and they hope to do more of these in the coming weeks to take away any excuses to get the shot.