Governor Brian Kemp on Thursday announced the expansion of Georgia’s vaccination criteria to include teachers and K-12 school staff, including people who work for private schools, preschools and daycare centers, adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their caregivers, and parents of children with complex medical conditions . These groups can be vaccinated from March 8th.
Phase 1A + in Georgia currently includes healthcare workers, residents and employees of long-term care facilities, adults aged 65 and over, and law enforcement and firefighters. When the state extended this phase to adults 65 and over (not 75) and first responders in January, Georgia deviated from the recommendations of the CDC Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices.
The CDC guidelines on vaccine distribution classify teachers, food, grocery, and farm workers, manufacturing workers, and U.S. Postal Service workers as essential frontline workers and should be prioritized for the vaccine. It is now unclear when these groups will receive the vaccine as the state appears to be revising the distribution plan.
People with serious underlying diseases could be eligible by the end of March, if all goes well with the latest vaccine addition. The criteria for this particular group of Georgians could be set in the “days ahead”.
“We still have a lot more demand than supply,” said the governor, not expanding sales to bring more people into the state.
An online tool with criteria for scheduling vaccine appointments at public health sites should be fully functional by some time in March, said Georgia Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Kathleen Toomey, at the press conference on Thursday.
In early February, the Atlanta City Council unanimously approved a resolution calling on the state to enroll correction officers, teachers, grocery, grocery and farm workers, manufacturing workers, and U.S. Postal Service workers in Phase 1A +. The resolution, co-authored by Councilors Antonio Brown and Dustin Hillis, states that these particular groups are “likely to have the highest risk of occupational exposure to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, because of their work The associated tasks must be performed on site and be in close proximity (<6 feet) to the public or employees. "
The resolution was sent to Kemp and Toomey for review. After Thursday’s press conference, Georgian food industry workers continue to wait for the vaccine without it being clear when it will come into question.
While Georgia does not have a statewide mask mandate for the public, masks are required for all customer-facing employees in businesses across the state, including hosts, servers, bartenders, food runners, and buses in restaurants and bars. By order of the governor, cities and counties may impose local mask requirements in public and on state property. However, owners of restaurants and other private businesses can opt out of enforcing a local mask mandate for customers.
Restaurants and bars need to increase the physical space between staff and customers and not allow customers to congregate when they are not seated at a table. There are no restaurant capacity restrictions in Georgia. Bars and nightclubs may limit the capacity to no more than 50 people or a total capacity of 35 percent.
The state health department has a website that shows vaccine totals by state, county, race, and ethnicity. According to the February 25 update, Georgia has administered 1,885,179 Vaccines or 81 percent of 2,317,115 Vaccines shipped to the state. The data is updated daily at 3 p.m.
Georgia residents can pre-register for the vaccine here.