GA health officials working to get family doctors enrolled as COVID-19 vaccination providers

ATLANTA — Georgia is making a new effort to recruit more family doctors to administer COVID-19 vaccines.

Only about 795 doctors across Georgia are enrolled as vaccine providers.

Channel 2′s Richard Elliot was in Decatur Thursday, where he talked to Dr. Kathleen Toomey, the commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Health.

[DOWNLOAD: Free WSB-TV News app for alerts as news breaks]

Toomey said Georgia health officials are trying to get more family doctors enrolled in the vaccination program now that the state’s mass vaccination sites have closed. Right now, out of 25,000 private doctors in the state of Georgia, only just under 800 of them are enrolled.

As of Wednesday, only about 45% Georgians have had even one dose of the vaccine.

Vaccine hesitancy is still a huge problem in Georgia.

TRENDING STORIES:

Toomey said that family doctors are critical in encouraging people to get vaccinated.

“Those are people who have the potential to change people’s minds about vaccines, and so we’re hoping we can engage broadly the medical community to help us provide vaccines,” Toomey said.

Toomey said health officials would like to get family doctors to make getting the COVID-19 vaccine as normal as getting a flu shot or a tetanus shot.

Dr. Andrew Reisman is a former president of the Medical Association of Georgia. He said that early on, it was difficult for smaller providers to get and handle vaccines without them going to waste.

[SIGN UP: WSB-TV Daily Headlines Newsletter]

He also said the state was concentrating more on mass vaccination sites than smaller state providers. But the said providers around the state are ready to fight against vaccine hesitancy, because people trust their doctors.

“And if people don’t want a vaccine, I think its important for us to ask why, answer questions,” Reisman said. “There’s a lot of information out there that’s not necessarily correct.”

Ben Long’s family is fully vaccinated, but he admits he has friends and family who just won’t get one.

“My wife and kids are vaccinated,” Long said. “I think they’re probably about the only ones.”