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District 2 Public Health receives first shipment of COVID-19 vaccine, will hold clinic for EMS workers next week
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Hall County EMA Director Casey Ramsey is working with the Department of Public Health coordinating how nearly 1,000 frontline EMS, fire and police employees are going to get vaccinated for COVID-19 as doses are expected to arrive. - photo by Scott Rogers

District 2 Public Health received its first shipment of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine Friday, Dec. 18, and plans to hold a clinic to vaccinate EMS workers Monday, Dec. 21, in Hall County.

The public health office received 975 doses and will have the clinic for EMS workers starting 8 a.m. both Monday, Dec. 21, and Tuesday, Dec. 22, at the Chicopee Woods Agricultural Center on Calvary Church Road. 

“Getting a vaccine to combat this disease and save lives is remarkable,” said District 2 Public Health Director Dr. Zachary Taylor in a statement. “With news of (a) Moderna vaccine being authorized for emergency use, we will now have two vaccines and will be able to vaccinate more people.”

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District 2 Public Health spokesman Dave Palmer said they have not received any information as of Friday on when they might receive a shipment of the Moderna vaccine.

The Department of Public Health vaccination plan prioritizes EMS workers, frontline heathcare workers and staff in long-term care facilities during the first phase of the rollout.

“Because of the limited amount, we’re working through our priority list of those most exposed to patients,” said Casey Ramsey, Hall County Emergency Management Agency director.

Ramsey said there has been a good deal of first responders who have been interested in getting the vaccine.

“There are some that have chosen for various reasons to maybe wait just a little while, but we do have a decent amount of people that have shown interest,” he said.

The second half of that first phase will include law enforcement first responders, Ramsey said..

“Regardless of what organization you work for, whether it is the city or the county, we’re going to have a centralized process with District 2 Public Health to take care of our first responders,” Ramsey told The Times Wednesday, Dec. 16.

Northeast Georgia Health System posted a frequently-asked questions section in its COVID-19 section of its website addressing possible side effects of the vaccine.

“Most people do not have serious problems after being vaccinated,” according to NGHS. “However, your arm may be sore, red, or warm to the touch. These symptoms usually go away on their own within a week.”

NGHS said others have reported experiencing headaches, muscle aches and fever.

“This is a sign that the vaccine is causing your body’s immune system to react and create antibodies to fight off the virus – exactly as it should,” according to NGHS. “It does not mean that the vaccine has given you COVID-19. In other words, if you feel some discomfort, the vaccine is doing its job.”

Seven Northeast Georgia Health System frontline health care workers received the first doses of a COVID-19 vaccine Thursday at Northeast Georgia Medical Center.

The health system received nearly 5,000 doses in the first shipment of the Pfizer vaccine, and Dr. John Delzell, the incident commander at the health system, said it could take a week or more to administer those doses to the health care workers. Delzell said the vaccine is not being mandated but strongly encouraged.