Preschool and K-12 school employees, adults with intellectual disabilities and their caregivers, and parents of children with complex medical conditions will be eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine in Georgia starting March 8.
Gov. Brian Kemp made the announcement Thursday, saying newly eligible people can start signing up Friday at MyVaccineGeorgia.com.
Gainesville City Schools Superintendent Jeremy Williams said he will provide an update to the school board on Monday.
“Our goal is going to be to take one day and vaccinate all of our employees on that one day, which means we would likely be moving to remote instruction for that one day to get our employees vaccinated,” Williams said. “We do anticipate using our nurses to help assist in the vaccinations.”
Williams said they will likely use the Gainesville Middle School gym for the vaccinations, though there is no firm date.
Having gauged interest in the fall among staff, Williams said they anticipate to vaccinate roughly 500 employees, which is close to 60% of the school system’s workforce. The superintendent said a survey was sent Thursday to confirm who would take the vaccine.
Hall County Schools also plans to use school nurses to administer some of the vaccines.
“The (Hall County School District) will continue to utilize its valued partnership with the District 2 Department of Public Health and our partners at private local pharmacies in rolling out vaccines for educators,” Hall spokesman Stan Lewis wrote in an email. “Once the vaccines are acquired, the district will hold clinics locally at schools, using school nurses to administer the vaccines. Additionally, pharmacies could play a role in administering vaccines to our team members.”
Lewis said they did not have any firm dates. From a survey a few months ago, Lewis said 40-45% of the school system’s staff showed an interest in receiving the vaccine.
Kemp said that he will expand eligibility later in March to more people with high-risk health conditions.
The Republican governor has faced pressure to open vaccinations to people with disabilities and frontline workers such as those who work in poultry processing plants. In deciding which teachers could get doses, he chose to allow child care workers and K-12 school employees and teachers to be vaccinated, but said that college teachers wouldn't be eligible for now.
Until now, Georgia has restricted vaccination to people 65 and older, as well as emergency workers, health care workers, and employees and staff of long-term care facilities such as nursing homes. All those people will still be eligible.
The state says that more than 800,000 people 65 and older have received at least one dose of the vaccine. Kemp spokeswoman Mallory Blount said the state estimates the new populations made eligible will include at least 1 million people.
The state is currently receiving about 200,000 doses a week, although that could rise a little if federal officials give permission to use a third vaccine made by Johnson & Johnson. State officials said the weekly supply has risen 70% since mid-January.
Officials have said they expect vaccine supply to expand significantly in April. But opening the gates to many more groups could prompt a rush like the one that was seen when Kemp made everyone over 65 eligible in mid-January, when there were many complaints about the difficulty of scheduling appointments.
Georgia has administered nearly 1.9 million doses according to the Department of Public Health data,
The state is nearing 1 million test-indicated COVID-19 infections and crossed 17,000 confirmed and probable deaths Wednesday. Positivity rates have dropped significantly in recent weeks.