Mercedes-Benz Stadium to be used as mass COVID-19 vaccination center

ATLANTA — Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta will be used to help get more Georgians vaccinated against COVID-19.

Channel 2 Action News has learned the stadium will be used as a be a vaccine distribution center through at least March for Fulton County residents.

“We are very proud to partner with Fulton County Board of Health to offer Mercedes-Benz Stadium to host vaccine distribution,” says Steve Cannon, CEO, AMB Sports and Entertainment. “This is a time for our communities to unite together and do what’s right for our citizens. Mercedes-Benz Stadium offers the opportunity to socially distance while servicing large numbers of people at once. We are honored to be a part of this solution and will do it as long as possible to serve our community.”

Distribution of the vaccine began Jan. 4, for the Phase 1 rollout to include medical practitioners, front line workers and first responders with more than 4,000 served in the first week. As of Jan. 11, the offering has been expanded to 65+ per Fulton County and state guidelines.

For more information on the COVID-19 vaccine distribution in Fulton County, residents may CLICK HERE, or call the COVID-19 Hotline at 404-613-8150 from 8 a.m. - 5:30 p.m. on weekdays. The vaccine is distributed by appointment only.

[QUICK LINKS: Here’s where you can get COVID-19 vaccines in metro Atlanta]

The state’s health commissioner said the demand has been much higher than the supply that’s available. She also said these big sites can help accommodate so many more people than county health clinics.

“We are planning regional mass vaccination cites that we anticipate will use a centralized system for setting appointments which will make it much easier and not be that hard on the local health departments as you get massive numbers of phone calls,” said Dr. Kathleen Toomey.

In the past, Mercedes Benz Stadium has been used as a site to get tested for the coronavirus. Now, it’ll be used for people to get the vaccine.

On Tuesday, Channel 2 Action News spoke to Dr. Jen Ashton about using big venues, like Mercedes-Benz Stadium, as mass vaccination sites.

“We have never embarked on an immunization campaign of this scale before. We have to look at what parts of our society do we have a lot of experience and a greater comfort level with massive amounts of people. Sports definitely, Election Day with over 100 million people definitely -- anywhere you can scan tickets -- put people through metal detectors you can immunize and vaccinate people,” Ashton said.

There have been reports of issues across Georgia with people unable to schedule vaccine appointments. Governor Brian Kemp held a news conference Tuesday where he urged Georgia to be patient.

[RELATED: Georgia Department of Public Health launches state-wide vaccine locator tool]

“The phone lines will be busy. Yes, the websites will certainly crash. There is simply vastly more Georgians that want the vaccine than can get it today,” Kemp said.