When Sue Byles gets a few minutes between the bumps, Band-Aids and parent phone calls in her work as Fair Street Elementary’s registered nurse, she looks through and maintains the records on vaccinations.
But Thursday, Feb. 4, she and others connected to the Gainesville City Schools were able to get the COVID-19 vaccine.
A vaccination clinic was held Thursday morning in the Mundy Mill Academy gymnasium for those eligible in the 1A+ phase of the vaccine rollout. So far, medical staff, first responders and those ages 65 and older are some of the groups able to request the vaccine in Georgia.
Dawn Wales, health service coordinator for the school system, said they were expecting to administer 113 doses of the Moderna vaccine Thursday. People participating in the Thursday clinic will return for their second shot March 4 in the same location.
Wales said the Department of Public Health allowed the school system to open it up to employees’ spouses and parents who were 65 and older.
Priscilla Collins, chief professional services officer for Gainesville City Schools, said 40 of their 962 total employees are ages 65 and older.
She did not have access to any statistics regarding how many staff members or relatives of staff members received their vaccine shots Thursday.
With a hope for COVID cases to go down and a return to normalcy, Byles said she looked forward to going back to the movie theater to see the top-rated films, particularly those with superheroes.
Lanie Parks, licensed practical nurse for Mundy Mill Academy, was able to get the vaccine Thursday along with her parents, Danny and Helen Parks.
“They’ve had a hard time getting signed up to get it anywhere else … so I was extremely excited and thankful that they would do that here and offer it to the parents,” Lanie Parks said.
Lanie Parks, who is in her 13th year of school nursing, said the vaccine makes her feel much more comfortable “and at ease with who I’m in contact with.”
Parks’ parents broadened their search from roughly Athens to Gwinnett County for the roughly four weeks since the vaccine became available for those 65 and older.
“We want to get back to life,” Helen Parks said.
The Times contacted District 2 Public Health on any estimate or indication of when the vaccine rollout will move on to phase 1B, which would likely include teachers and other groups considered essential workers.
District 2 spokesman Dave Palmer said Gov. Brian Kemp and Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Kathleen Toomey will make that decision and directed The Times to comments Kemp made Jan. 26 concerning vaccinations for teachers.
“The truth is we do not yet have enough vaccine for those most at risk (for) serious complications or death from this virus,” Kemp said Jan. 26.
Kemp said he and Toomey are committed to vaccinating as many 1A+ as quickly as we can
“Once Dr. Toomey and her team feel comfortable that we can expand that criteria, we will be ready and we will move quickly to do that,” Kemp said Jan. 26.
While touring a Marietta mass vaccination site Wednesday, Feb. 3, Kemp said the state’s vaccine supply “continues to not meet the demand that we have out in the community.”
President Joe Biden has said the federal government is working to increase vaccine supplies. States will see about a 16% boost in deliveries of vaccines in coming weeks, he said recently.
The White House on Tuesday announced that 1 million doses will be distributed directly to about 6,500 pharmacies across the nation.
In Georgia, health care providers have now administered about one million doses of vaccine statewide, the governor said. About 500,000 older Georgians have now received their first shot, he said.
“These are certainly two big, encouraging milestones (in) our fight against COVID-19, but we know that we can not rest on our laurels," he said Wednesday.
About 800,000 people in Georgia have received at least one dose of vaccine, according to the latest updates from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That’s more than 7% of the population.
About 130,000 people — about 1.2% of Georgia’s population — have received two doses to become fully vaccinated, CDC figures show.
Given the vaccine supply shortages, some public health districts have had to “pause" appointments because they don't have enough vaccine, Kemp's office said recently.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.