While Georgia escaped the wintry weather wreaking havoc across the nation, its COVID vaccine efforts were not so lucky. Originally set for this week, vaccine deliveries to northwest Georgia’s health departments were delayed due to weather issues.
"The Georgia Department of Public Health Northwest Health District is using the Moderna vaccine, and shipments from Moderna to the distributor, McKesson, which then are shipped to the states, are delayed," said Logan Boss, public information officer/risk communicator for the Georgia DPH’s Northwest Health District. "We hope the shipments will arrive next week.”
Northwest Health District — which spans 10 counties, including Bartow — currently is in Phase 1A+ of the state’s COVID-19 Vaccination Plan. Among the groups currently receiving the vaccine include health care workers, first responders, law enforcement, adults 65 and older and their caregivers, and staff and residents of long-term care facilities. The last group of individuals is being vaccinated by CVS and Walgreens via a federal program, Boss said.
“Several of our 10 northwest Georgia health departments were already out of vaccine and unable to schedule appointments to vaccinate. Those that had vaccine on hand and were able to schedule appointments will not be able to schedule any more appointments until more vaccine is received,” Boss said, adding “The Bartow County Health Department is vaccinating today, 2/18/21, but will likely be out of vaccine before the day is over and will not be able to schedule any more appointments until more vaccine is received.”
While the situation is not ideal, Boss believes current-day vaccination issues will be resolved in the future.
“Vaccine supply — even before the current weather-related delay — has been erratic and inadequate to meet demand, but we know that sooner or later it will improve, especially as more vaccines are authorized for use,” he said. “The biggest problem we’ve encountered is the frustration and difficulty people have scheduling appointments, which we are only doing now by phone.
“It’s frustrating for us, too. Once people actually get an appointment scheduled, the rest of the process goes smoothly, and we are receiving nothing but positive feedback on the actual immunization process at our health departments, including comments, such as ‘well-oiled machine,’ ‘fast and efficient’ and ‘courteous, friendly and professional.’”
While health departments and providers await the delayed vaccine shipments, the Georgia Department of Public Health encourages the public to be patient while the weather improves.
According to a news release from the Georgia DPH, “Your provider should contact you about rescheduling your appointment. For people who were scheduled to receive second doses of vaccine and are worried about not being vaccinated at three or four weeks, the CDC says second doses of Pfizer and Moderna vaccines may be administered up to six weeks after the first dose.”