Gov. Kemp says state will come after providers hoarding COVID-19 vaccine as it works on distribution

ATLANTA — Gov. Brian Kemp answered questions on Tuesday about the slow rollout of the two vaccines to fight the spread of COVID-19.

Georgia currently ranks near the bottom of states administering the vaccine and that could impact how many doses the state gets in the future.

“This is no doubt frustrating. I would prefer that we have ample supply and we could vaccinate everyone immediately. In fact, that is simply not possible,” Kemp said.

[RELATED: Health department websites to schedule COVID-19 vaccine appointments crash]

Kemp said the numbers aren’t as bad as they sound, chalking them up to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention using outdated numbers and hospitals not reporting.

He urged Georgia to be patient.

“The phone lines will be busy. Yes, the websites will certainly crash. There is simply vastly more Georgians that want the vaccine than can get it today,” Kemp said.

The governor said he believes using systems where you make an appointment to get a vaccine is the best way to administer the vaccines right now, especially when it comes to the health of senior citizens.


“I do not believe it’s the right approach for seniors to wait in long lines for a vaccine drives,” Kemp said.

He also warned that any provider that is holding supplies in reserves that the state will be knocking on their door.

“We have also unfortunately received reports of providers holding vaccines in reserve. If you are a provider who is holding vaccines, you need to administer those doses a quickly as safely as possible,” Kemp said. “If it takes me firing up my pickup truck and doing it myself, so be it.”

State Sen. Donzella James said her phones are ringing off the hook with calls from her Atlanta constituents wondering where they can go to get the vaccine.

She said she’s embarrassed that Georgia is at the bottom of the list of states administering doses.

[RELATED: QUICK LINKS: Here’s where you can get COVID-19 vaccines in metro Atlanta]

“I think we need to step it up. I was looking at other states, even Florida and how they even have it at Publix in Florida,” James said. “I’m tired of going to funerals of my good friends.”

State Sen. Nan Orrock got the vaccine at the capitol Tuesday. She’s 77 and is eligible. She agreed that Georgia needs to see what other, more successful states are doing and then copy them.

“We need to immediately, warp speed, look to the states that are doing the best job and see what it is that they’re doing that we’re missing,” Orrock said.

Channel 2′s Steve Gehlbach was at a drive-in vaccination location at the Brandsmart in DeKalb County Tuesday where health officials say a glitch caused some people to wait for hours this morning.

The Channel 2 Action News newsroom started getting calls around 4 a.m. about people showing up at the vaccination site with an appointment - but no one was there.

The DeKalb Board of Health shows the site doesn’t open until 8:30 a.m. each day.

Some looking for the vaccine just left, but many stayed waiting up to four hours.

A spokesperson said more than 50 people were able to make appointments online for those odd, early hours before it could update and set the correct times.

All were allowed to get their shot, and those we talked to were grateful, even with the wait, including one of Santa’s helpers who wasn’t so merry.

“I think they’ve done an extremely poor job because someone had to put this information in for it to accept our registration, and on top of that could, have notified us so we’re sitting here for three hours, but I’m still thrilled,” said Rick “Santa” Rosenthal.

Another woman said she was happy to just get the vaccine.

“Tell you the truth, just happy to get the vaccine. I don’t care how long I have to wait,” the woman said.

The board of health said they apologize for the inconvenience but asks that everyone be patient. It was just sheer volume on their system that kept it from updating then.

They have gone back and checked and it didn’t happen at the other site, or any other days.

Health officials said they were able to give around 900 vaccine doses Monday between the Brandsmart location and another in Stonecrest. They said they hope to do even more Tuesday.