All GEMA mass vaccination sites closing next month in Georgia

ATLANTA — The state of Georgia plans to shut down its eight statewide mass vaccination centers after the governor’s office says demand at those sites has dropped in the past two weeks.

This comes as Channel 2 investigative reporter Justin Gray uncovered new data about how well the state is doing at preventing vaccines from going to waste.

[SPECIAL SECTION: COVID-19 Vaccine in Georgia]

The state of Georgia said has vaccinated more than 300,000 people at its mass vaccination sites run by Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security because the COVID-19 vaccine is now more available elsewhere.

“As supply and availability of the COVID-19 vaccines has dramatically increased across the state, far more Georgians are now able to easily access the vaccine at their local pharmacy, grocery store, or doctor’s office,” said GEMA director Chris Stallings.

A state official called the move “a natural evolution,” but microbiologist Amber Schmitke told Gray it could be become more difficult to get people vaccinated.

“As complicated as mass vaccination was, that’s actually the easy part. The harder part now is meeting people where they are,” Schmitke said.

Gray found that Georgia continues to do a good job of not wasting vials of vaccine once they are open.

He obtained a spreadsheet from the Department of Public Health showing total wasted vaccine in Georgia.

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Altogether, including spoiled and damaged vials, that state had 7,851 wasted doses. That’s only 0.13% of vaccine administered.

About half of that number, 4,547 doses, were wasted because they were “not needed after prepared.”

“Of course, we don’t want any of them wasted, but when Georgia has administered 5.9 million doses, that’s pretty good. That’s better than we might have hoped for,” Schmitke said.

About 34% of Georgians have now received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

[LINK: Where to find the COVID-19 vaccine in Georgia]

“Well, I think it’s important. Go on and get it done. You are only going help the community and help yourself as well,” said Alvin Champion, who just got vaccinated on Monday.

Because of the Johnson & Johnson pause, Georgia now has more than 200,000 doses of the J&J vaccine stockpiled.

Starting next week, the state said it will switch to the J&J vaccine and administer those one-dose shots at all the mass vaccination sites going forward, except for people who still need their second Pfizer dose.

It is important to note the state closure does not include county or federal mass vaccination sites, like the one at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

Mercedes-Benz Stadium continues to provide walk-up vaccinations.

These are the mass vaccination sites:

  • Macon Farmers Market: Bibb County, 2055 Eisenhower Parkway, Macon, GA 31206
  • Delta Air Museum: Fulton County, 1220 Woolman Place SW, Hapeville, Georgia 30354
  • Habersham County Fairgrounds: Habersham County, 4235 Toccoa Highway Clarkesville, GA 30523
  • LakePoint Sports Complex: Bartow County, 261 Stars Way, Emerson, GA 30121
  • Gulfstream Aerospace: Chatham County, 2 Innovation Drive, Savannah, GA 31408
  • Columbus Civic Center: Muscogee County, 1 Lumpkin Blvd, Columbus, GA 31901
  • Waycross Mall: Ware County, 2215 Memorial Drive, Waycross, GA 31501
  • Sandersville Word of Life Church: Washington County, 1214 S. Harris Street, Sandersville, GA 31082