CDC: Georgia among lowest percent of people vaccinated against COVID-19

ATLANTA — Emily Ekanayake is happy to be one of 1.6 million fully vaccinated Georgians. But data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that fully vaccinated people make up just 15% of the state’s population — the lowest percentage in the country.

“I’ve been waiting for the vaccine,” Ekanayake told Channel 2′s Matt Johnson. “I am not changing the way that I’m doing things until more people are vaccinated, until my children are vaccinated. But I do feel more protected.”

Nearly three weeks after everyone age 16 and up became eligible, it didn’t lead to a statewide surge in demand.

No appointment is needed Tuesday at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium mega site.

In northwest Georgia, the public health district said it stopped asking for as many doses because of sinking demand.

“It’s very disheartening because, you know, we’re still a long way from herd immunity. Georgia lags behind the rest of the country in vaccines,” said Dr. Gary Voccio with the Georgia Department of Public Health Northwest District.

This comes as all states will have fewer doses to work with this week.

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Georgia’s shipment of Johnson & Johnson has 88% fewer doses because of contaminated doses at a facility.

“This vaccine is just as effective as the other vaccines,” said Dr. Jose Cordero, who teaches epidemiology at the University of Georgia.

Cordero was also an advisor on the White House’s transition team.

He says the mix-up at the J&J facility in Baltimore is a sign the quality control system works.

“It was detected before there was any of that vaccine going out,” Cordero said.

The shortage is expected to be temporary, and experts are hopeful production will ramp up as more states expand eligibility.

“We need to think about this not in terms of not just the next month or the two months, but a long run. And having a vaccine like Johnson & Johnson, it’s very important,” Cordero told Johnson.

Georgia health officials continue to battle vaccine hesitancy in rural communities while the State Health Equity Council continues its push for access in communities of color.

“They could pop up all the pop-up sites they want. If you don’t have transportation to get there, the pop-up site is null and void; you’re not going to be able to get the vaccine,” said Dexter Benning with the Department of Health COVID-19 Equity Council.

Many vaccinated Georgians say they feel safer but will feel safest when more people are vaccinated.

“It works, and it’s safe. I really believe that,” Ekanayake said. “We want to have fun and be back together. And this is our way to do it.”

The Mercedes-Benz Stadium mass vaccination walk-up appointments will begin at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday and run until 6:30 p.m. Again, no appointment necessary.