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More than 1 million COVID-19 vaccines given out so far, Gov. Kemp says

ATLANTA — Gov. Brian Kemp and the state’s top health officials said that more than 1 million COVID-19 vaccines have been given out so far since launching the vaccination process.

Kemp said by Wednesday night, the state will have given at least one dose of the vaccine to 500,000 seniors.

This comes as the Department of Public Health says there are now 23 confirmed cases of the highly contagious UK variant across the state.

[SPECIAL SECTION: COVID-19 Vaccine in Georgia]

Despite the that news, Kemp said the state is headed in the right direction.

“We’re on the right path to getting Georgians back to normal,” Kemp said.

Kemp said the demand for the vaccine is drastically out pacing the supply.

“The Georgia vaccine supply continues to not meet the demand we have in the community. Our demand is drastically outpacing the supply that we’re seeing in our state,” Kemp said.

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On Tuesday, the Biden administration announced 1 million doses will go to pharmacies across the country, and because of this more vaccines will be available here in Georgia.

“Given the slight increase, the state’s allocation will bump up to about 154,000 per week starting with next week’s shipment,” Kemp said.

For weeks, educators have called on the governor for priority access to the vaccine. Kemp said there’s not enough vaccine to make that happen right now.

“Dr. Toomey and I hear you, and trust me, we will want nothing more than to expand the criteria but our currently supply simply does not make that feasible at this time, but it is high on our radar,” Kemp said.

Vaccines are currently available only to people in Phase 1A, which includes first responders, health care workers, individuals ages 65 and older and their caregivers and residents and staff of long-term care facilities.

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

Georgia Department of Public Health’s Dr. Kathleen Toomey echoed what the governor said, saying it will all depend on how much vaccine the state can get.

“We want everybody vaccinated, I mean I would love it if we had enough vaccines,” Toomey said. “Who are those the most likely to be adversely affected by COVID? And you look at our numbers it’s these older adults that are more likely to die or severe deadly complications.”

Toomey stressed the importance of wearing a mask and social distancing.

She said with the presence of the UK variant in the metro, she said you don’t need to avoid the area but you should keep up your guard.

“To me that means you don’t have to avoid Cobb or other counties that may have had these variants. It means these variants are wide spread, probably throughout Georgia,” Toomey said.

As of Tuesday, there have been 759,228 positive cases of COVID-19 since the beginning of the pandemic. There is currently a 11.2% positive rate. At least 12,907 people have died of the coronavirus.

Phase 1: Limited vaccine availability

Phase 1A:

Phase 1-A will include paid and unpaid persons serving in a healthcare setting who have the potential for direct or indirect exposure to patients or infectious materials. Hospital staff, public health clinical staff, EMS, and other first responders, long term care facility (LTCF) staff, and urgent care facility staff are examples of people who will be included in this phase.

Additional examples include:

  • Staff in clinical settings (e.g., physicians, nurses, pharmacists, EMS, laboratory staff, environmental services, LTCF staff etc.)
  • LTCF Residents

Phase 1-B:

Phase 1-B will include other essential workers and people at higher risk of severe COVID-19 illness.

Examples of people that will be included in this Phase are listed below:

  • Police and fire personnel not covered under Phase 1-A
  • Critical workforce employees (e.g., pharmacy staff, educational faculty and staff, correctional facility staff, court employees, food processors, grocery store workers, transportation staff, nuclear power plant employees, air traffic controllers, etc.)
  • All adults 75 and older and those 65 and older with significant comorbidities and their caregivers

Phase 1-C:

Phase 1-C will include people at higher risk of severe COVID-19 illness, not vaccinated during Phase 1-A or Phase 1-B.

Examples of this population include:

  • Other essential workers
  • Adults below age 65 with significant comorbidities

Phase 2: Increased vaccine availability

  • Nonclinical public health, hospital and long-term care facility workers and their family members
  • Individuals in homeless shelters
  • Individuals in congregate settings (dorms, group homes)
  • Staff and individuals in jails, prisons, detention centers
  • Adults aged 31-64

Phase 3: Vaccine widely available

  • The general population and children, once the vaccine is approved for pediatric use