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Gov. Kemp opens up COVID-19 vaccine to K-12 teachers

Thursday, February 25, Governor Brian P. Kemp joined Georgia Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Kathleen Toomey and Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency Director Chris Stallings at the State Capitol to provide an update on COVID-19 vaccine distribution and expanded criteria to receive the vaccine, effective March 8.

“Since the first vaccine was administered in Georgia last December, we remained focused on vaccinating the most vulnerable,” said Governor Kemp. “With seniors accounting for 77 percent of COVID-19 deaths in the state, we expanded our criteria early on to include those over the age of 65, as well as other at-risk populations like first responders, law enforcement, health care workers, and caregivers. Dr. Toomey and I have been clear: while vaccine supply was limited, doses had to be prioritized for those high-risk Georgians and those on the frontlines of providing vital healthcare or public safety services to our communities.

“Since mid-January we have seen a 70 percent increase in doses sent to the state, allowing us to make significant headway in the current 1a+ population. Thanks to encouraging allotment updates from the federal government and anticipated increases in our allocation over the next few weeks, we feel confident in expanding Georgia’s current vaccine eligibility to include the following, starting March 8: adults with intellectual or developmental disabilities and their caregivers, parents of children with complex medical conditions, all K-12 educators and school staff, and pre-K and DECAL staff.

“Provided that our supply continues to increase and this expansion goes well, we plan to further expand criteria to include more Georgians with severe underlying health conditions who are not currently eligible. We will finalize that timeline in the coming days, and DPH will continue to work with providers to ensure their criteria is up to date.

“My priority will continue to be protecting the most vulnerable and getting Georgians back to normal as quickly as possible.”

Effective March 8, K-12 educators and school staff, both public and private will all be eligible for the vaccine.
Superintendent Tim Cochran expressed his excitement with this expansion.

“We have been working with the local health department and they are coming to vaccinate all employees who are interested on March 12.,” he said.

Cochran said approximately 50% of employees have already signed up to get the vaccine, while 25% have declined to have it administered to them. The remaining 25% told Cochran they were undecided on getting vaccinated.

Cochran believes this will put the teachers at ease.

“We’ve had a successful year thus far, and this will only continue that success,” he finished.