Gov. Kemp has conference call with metro superintendents over vaccines, sources say

COBB COUNTY, Ga. — Nearly a dozen metro Atlanta superintendents said they need teachers vaccinated against COVID-19 to keep schools open.

They called on Gov. Brian Kemp to give educators priority access to the shot. The educators’ concerns were laid out in a letter sent to the governor on Tuesday, that said teachers and school staff should be included in Phase 1a-plus of the vaccination plan. Teachers currently fall in group 1b.

The change would mean they would be able to get vaccinated immediately.

Channel 2 Cobb County Bureau Chief Chris Jose has learned that those concerns came up in a call on Wednesday between the superintendents and the governor.

“What confidence does the governor have that the process is not being manipulated?” Jose asked Cody Hall, the governor’s communications director.

Jose learned there’s concern some people might be gaming the system and getting in front of teachers.

“I think the confidence is high at this point,” said Hall, in response to Jose’s questions. “We encourage anyone, if you see something, you have to say something.”

Hall said the public health commissioner addressed vaccination concerns with school superintendents on Monday.


“The governor and Dr. Toomey would both ask people to do the right thing,” Hall said.

Those 65 and older and their caregivers are in group 1a-plus.

During that call, Jose learned there were questions about checks and balances, including how public health workers and providers are checking if someone really is a caregiver.

“There’s no doubt it. We have to make sure with providers and public health workers that those who are receiving the vaccine are eligible,” Hall said. “Caregiver is a defined term by the CDC and local public health departments.”

“Our limited supply of vaccines are only going to those who are currently eligible and highest risk of a negative consequence of contracting this virus,” Hall added.

In a letter to Kemp, superintendents from the largest districts in metro Atlanta said, “”The longer we delay in vaccinating our teachers and school staff, the more we risk having to close our doors once again.”

John Nwosu is a counselor with a wife and 7-month-old child.

“I want to do the best I can to support them and the reality is that I’m being forced to come to work in unsafe conditions. I would love to at least be able to have a vaccine,” Nwosu said.

The governor’s office said there are more than 2 million Georgians in group 1a-plus and there’s more demand than supply.

As of Wednesday night, the state was not even halfway through vaccinating the first group of people yet. As more doses come in, the governor’s office says teachers will be added to the expanded criteria.

The governor’s office released a statement, saying:

“This is a simple math problem the superintendents who signed this letter should certainly understand. As the Governor and Dr. Toomey have said multiple times: Georgia is not currently receiving enough vaccine supply to provide priority vaccination to over 400,000 teachers and school staff. Additional vaccine does not appear out of thin air and the data is clear. With a weekly allocation of 146,000 doses, the current 1A plus population still accounts for over 2 million high-risk Georgians. Georgia has currently reported over 741,000 vaccinations. These superintendents should explain which currently eligible population should be, in their view, sent to the back of the line for vaccination. Seniors? Healthcare workers? First responders and law enforcement? The Governor has repeatedly stated - as recently as today - that as soon as Georgia begins to receive increased vaccine supply, teachers and school staff will absolutely be included in any expanded criteria.”