Huge lines outside Mercedes-Benz Stadium on 1st day of mass vaccination site

ATLANTA — Mercedes-Benz Stadium turned into a mass COVID-19 vaccination site Wednesday and there are long lines of people waiting to get their shot.

The expansion comes on the heels of Gov. Brian Kemp announcing that all Georgians over the age of 16 will be eligible for the vaccine this week.

The massive site in Atlanta went from one “pod” to six and will be open seven days a week. It will be able to give up to 42,000 vaccinations a week over the next two months.

The stadium, near two MARTA stops, with free parking, won’t require any ID or insurance. It also will open weekends and later hours, till 10 p.m. two nights a week.

[SPECIAL SECTION: COVID-19 Vaccine in Georgia]

Long lines on first day

Channel 2′s Steve Gehlbach was at the site Wednesday where lines stretched outside the stadium, but otherwise it moved smoothly.

Those with appointments said it only took about 45 minutes from arriving to out the door, including the 15 minute wait after the shot.

“Once I got in the line everything moved through really nicely. Very organized, everyone very friendly in there. Just top rated,” said resident Kari McCormic.

“It’s smooth sailing once you get inside. I’d advise everyone, come on out and make an appointment,” said resident Yvonne Meeks.

People can take MARTA, or there is free parking. Workers are directing traffic into the red deck mostly, also orange and silver decks.

[LIST: Where are Georgia’s mass vaccination sites?]

Channel 2 Action News spoke to one man who said with the new eligibility expansion, he’s had a change of heart and now he’s ready to get vaccinated.

“I was kind of skeptical at first, but you know, I have like, looked more into it. And I want to get it now,” said Jesus Barraza of Hall County.

The 21-year-old is eligible to get vaccinated Thursday.

[Q&A: How can I book a COVID-19 vaccine appointment in Georgia? Which shots are available?]

Barraza said having a social life again is one of the reasons he’s rushing to get an appointment.

“My mom’s considered a high risk person. She has diabetes. So you know, that’s one, second of all, I want to get back to like, you know, normal,” Barraza said.

More than 1 million Georgians are fully vaccinated and nearly three quarters of seniors have already received at least one dose and expects supply to increase.

Kemp said the state is monitoring vaccine supply across Georgia.

“Appointments will no doubt be hard to find in certain regions of our state. We will continue to shift doses to the areas of highest demand as we have over the last few weeks,” Kemp said.

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