At the beginning of January the state extended the vaccination eligibility, which led to a new surge in demand.
ATLANTA – Georgia began expanding vaccine availability on January 11th to include adults 65 and older, as well as law enforcement and first responders.
It has so far created a surge of new demand that in some cases has overwhelmed the capacities of local health districts.
RELATED: Georgia COVID Vaccine Locator Tool Launched
Officials ask for your patience and find that phone lines and websites operated by local counties are not necessarily used to large waves of traffic.
In the meantime, however, in some ways, a vacuum is created in which people seek answers. 11Alive has received a number of questions throughout the day and will try to clarify this:
- Who is eligible under the new rules? The state has extended eligibility to adults 65 and over, as well as law enforcement, firefighters, and other types of first responders. Frontline health workers as well as residents and long-term care facility workers were already eligible.
- If I get a vaccine, will you make an appointment for my second dose? This has been a point of frustration for many people who have called and emailed 11Alive, and it largely depends on your health department or the hospital / private provider where you will be vaccinated. Dr. Fulton County’s David Holland told 11Alive’s Tracey Amick Peer that people who have already received their first dose will receive an email to schedule an appointment for the second dose so they don’t have to call at all. “We reserve slots for the second dose,” said Holland. “There are many of them and you will be contacted directly.” The county said they would start scheduling appointments for the second dose when people got their first dose.
- Can I call the state to make an appointment? No, only local health districts make appointments. There is a state vaccination hotline at (888) 357-0169, but that’s it Not for scheduling appointments.
- Where can I find information about my local health district? 11Alive has compiled a list of health districts by county throughout the Atlanta Metro and Northern Georgia.
- What if all appointments are taken? This appears to be the case under certain circumstances. For example, in District 2, which covers much of northeast Georgia, many of the county’s registration calendars appear to be currently unavailable. It may be that they are already full or not yet fully functional. In either case, however, all you need to do is be patient and check with your health department regularly. Georgia, like any other state, simply doesn’t have enough doses for anyone who just wants one. However, they expanded the eligibility as there were some districts where those who were eligible first did not use them, and they wanted to make sure that at least someone got them. See below for more information.
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- When are new dates opened? That would vary by district, but unfortunately they don’t have an immediate answer as it depends on the availability of vaccines which they cannot control. Districts seem to give advance notice of when they will open new slots. The best advice we can give you is to check your public health district website at least daily.
- Can I get the vaccine from my hospital? Increasingly, hospitals that have administered vaccines to their workers are turning to vaccinating patients within their network. Your best bet is to check the website or call your health care provider. For example, here’s how Emory Healthcare deals with things.
- What if my local health district website is unavailable? This was the case in some districts today as interest in vaccines has skyrocketed. Right now, the best answer we can give you is to just try to be patient while the officials work to get the website service back. The state said Monday afternoon that it was “currently under discussion to set up a centralized system for vaccination and / or mass vaccination centers to provide additional access to vaccines if the vaccine supply allows it”.
- Can I try contacting another health district to make an appointment? We urge you not to do this. It’s not clear if the state specifically prohibits this, but the district health websites that operate and register will ask for information like your address so they know if you’re trying to come from another area. If you try to make an appointment anyway, you may be ignored or told that you are not eligible. In the meantime, you could slow down a system that people in that district need access to.
- Can I try going to a private provider like a pharmacy? You can do so, and contact information for private pharmacies and clinics can be found here, as well as information on the initiatives taking place at Kroger here and Publix here.
- Could I go to a private provider in another county? It’s hard to see why a pharmacy would turn you away if you successfully set up an appointment with them. However, if you are making an appointment with a pharmacy or other type of health facility, this should be clarified with them.