HALL COUNTY, Ga. — The first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine has arrived at Georgia nursing homes and were met with applause from caregivers Monday
Channel 2′s Justin Gray is at The Oaks at Limestone nursing home in Gainesville, where the first shots were given.
Nursing homes have accounted for about 5% of COVID19 cases here in Georgia, but 37% of the deaths. That’s why Gov. Brian Kemp said it is so critical to get the vaccine inside these facilities.
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The Georgia Department of Public Health commissioner Dr. Kathleen Toomey told Gray the state is starting with employees then moving to residents.
The William Breman Jewish Home in Atlanta says their residents will start to receive vaccines Tuesday morning
These initial doses are coming from the state allotment, but through Operation Warp Speed they are being distributed to 95% of the state’s nursing homes directly by CVS and Walgreens
“The public-private partnership with CVS and Walgreens to go straight to facilities, like here at Pruitt, take the states out of being the middle man. Obviously the doses are coming out of our allotment but to me that makes a lot of sense that they’re working on the logistics of that,” Kemp said at a news conference Monday.
“I feel like that’s going to go very well because you’re going to a specific location and they know how many staff and how many residents so you know how many vaccines to share if you can, you can be very efficient,” he said.
Jonathan Harris, a nursing assistant at the Oaks, became the first nursing home employee in the state to get the vaccine.
“It gives me a measure of hope. Hope for a better tomorrow, hope for my residents that they are safe,” Harris told Gray.
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The pharmacies have spent months planning for the rollout in nursing homes and assisted living centers across the country. Officials with CVS say their pharmacists will administer vaccinations at more than 600 nursing and assisted living facilities this week in Georgia.
“We will have immunized trained pharmacists, helping to administer vaccine in the facilities. We will arrive on site and set up a clinic, much like our flu vaccines in the fall,” said Sara Lathan with CVS Health Care.
Channel 2 Action News talked to many families and staff members at the facilities about the vaccines. The residents and staffs at Arbor Terrace at Crabapple in Alpharetta were thrilled to learn about the chance to be vaccinated.
“They have gone through a challenging year. Everyone has kept their spirits up,” Anne Germany told Channel 2′s Tom Regan.
“I’ve got all the other vaccinations. and I’m 92 so I need that for insurance,” said Ted Chernak.
The 92-year-old said he is a retired accountant and lawyer, who told Regan that he once advised Walmart founder Sam Walton. Chernak said it’s been tough year, keeping socially distant from his grown children when they visit.
“We are six feet apart and wearing a mask. You can’t hug them or anything. I can throw them kisses,” he said.
Chernak said his family supports him getting the vaccine.
“They’re excited as well. Yeah, they want to keep me around a little longer,” he said.
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Edna Taylor, 93, lives at Chelsey Park in Dahlonega and she is anticipating getting the vaccine so she can get back to spending time with her four children.
“She’s very social,” her daughter Sally Hoynacki said. “She used to play cards and games and all kinds of stuff like that.”
Currently, Hoynacki and her mom can only speak through a glass window with no touching involved. She called it a nightmare but hopes the vaccine can bring an end to it.
“If that’s the magic bullet, then she’s all about it. She would be jumping on that wagon as soon as it gets here,” Hoynacki said.