People across metro fed up with waiting to get appointment, head south for COVID-19 vaccine

People across metro fed up with waiting to get appointment, head south for COVID-19 vaccine

ALBANY, Ga. — The state opened four mass vaccination sites this week, but one site in south Georgia is not drawing many people.

In fact, some people are driving three hours from metro Atlanta for their chance at the vaccine.

Channel 2′s Tony Thomas drove down to the vaccination site in Albany on Tuesday where he saw plenty of Atlanta drivers in line.

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The state is practically begging eligible south Georgians to get their vaccines. Some north Georgians are seeing an opening and taking the drive.

“It’s been hard,” said Glenn Ficklin. “We have friends and relatives that had COVID. We wanted to make sure we were on top of the curve.”

Ficklin, from DeKalb County, told Thomas he had tried for days to get his vaccine around metro Atlanta. Then he took his shot in south Georgia.

Georgia Emergency Management says while the state’s other three sites in north Georgia are booked solid, in Albany they only had 100 people show up Monday.

Each site can handle 1,100 appointments a day. About 200 showed up Tuesday, including quite a few from north Georgia.

The state says it isn’t wasting any doses, sending some by helicopter back north when it’s apparent there aren’t enough appointments in Albany.

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Former Cobb County resident Keith Samuel expects many of his former neighbors to start heading south now that the word is out.

“Just a couple hours away. Couple hours versus your life, that’s the way I look at it. Take care of business, take care of your family. That’s the way I look at it,” Samuel said.

The vaccine is not open to everybody, just those in the Phase 1a group, which includes those people over 65, first responders and the like.

But state leaders say all who qualify are welcome.

The Albany site is the only one in the state where you don’t have to have an appointment. But officials say they are only guaranteeing enough vaccine for the appointments made.

If there are others available, they will give them to any eligible person who shows up.

But if they think they have too many extra doses, they aren’t keeping them there. So without an appointment, it could be a long, disappointing ride home.