Georgia seniors express frustration in trying to get COVID-19 vaccines

Georgia seniors express frustration in trying to get COVID-19 vaccines

FORSYTH COUNTY, Ga. — As Georgia leaders promise to increase access to the vaccine for the general population over 65, some tell Channel 2 Action News they’re still having issues securing an appointment.

Nancy Farmer reached out to Channel 2 with her concerns.

“They did not give any thought as to how that was going to be distributed, especially for people our age,” she told Channel 2′s Mike Petchenik.

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Farmer said she and her husband, who live in Forsyth County, have been sheltering in place for nearly a year and have gone without seeing family, including their grandchildren.

“So where do we come in? Do we have to wait until maybe April if we’re lucky?” she asked. “Maybe the end of the summer, or maybe the beginning of 2022?”

Farmer said she called several hotlines on the state’s website and learned that one was disconnected while another was consistently busy.

“So you have a health department in each county that’s supposed to serve the masses. And there was no thought given,” she said.

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Microbiologist Dr. Amber Schmidtke has been following the vaccine rollout.

“To me, it seems like it’s a lack of coordination and planning,” she told Petchenik. “I’m seeing is the decentralization of the process. You know, rather than having a coordinated effort at the state level, the effort is really being pushed onto public health departments that have already been overworked and overwhelmed, as well as being understaffed and underfunded throughout the course of this pandemic.”

Schmidtke believes the state should enlist the Georgia Emergency Management Agency to help with mass vaccinations.

“GEMA is fantastic at complex logistics and getting supplies to where they’re needed recruiting health care workers for disaster response,” she said. “So, I think that resource could be brought to bear here… it’s clear that we really need to adopt an all hands on deck approach.”

Schmidtke says chaos and confusion around the vaccine rollout could have bigger consequences.

“I want to make sure that people who have felt disenfranchised by the medical establishment in the past don’t necessarily feel that way this time,” she said.

A spokesman for Governor Kemp sent Petchenik a statement about the concerns:

“The Governor said multiple times yesterday, the overarching problem facing Georgia – and other states – is the supply of vaccines. 11,500 per day, or 80k per week. Given the safety protocols around the vaccines, the need for appointments, and the logistical challenges of transport and storage, supply remains the most significant obstacle to more vaccines administered,” said Cody Hall. “GEMA continues to be integral to the state’s strategic plan to distribute and administer the vaccine going forward.”