ATLANTA — The state’s top doctor anticipates more clarity about Georgia’s incoming vaccine supply as a new administration heads into the White House and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention this week.
During a budget hearing Tuesday, Dr. Kathleen Toomey answered questions about dose supply, saying communication with the federal government to this point has not offered answers as to what Georgia can expect in terms of incoming supply.
“We literally don’t know week-to week what our allocation will be, and there has been a disconnect between what we were told was coming and what was actually available,” Toomey said.
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“I think this week we are going to be closely monitoring the changes after Wednesday (Inauguration Day),” Toomey continued. “There’s been a promise of addition of vaccines, but we can’t make those moves of adding additional providers until we know exactly how much vaccine is coming.”
Two state lawmakers went on to ask for more information on plans for mass vaccination sites and second doses. In both cases, Toomey reiterated the lack of knowledge because of the federal government’s role in the supply chain.
“I talked to someone in the health department last Friday, and they told me to tell my people to be patient, but people who are 80, 90 and 100 years old who live in my area cannot get the vaccine,” said State Sen. Gail Davenport, as she asked about plans for mass vaccination sites.
“We’re actually waiting for more vaccine to get the large sites going,” Toomey said.
Another lawmaker asked for clarity on whether any of Georgia’s 900,000 doses were being held for a second dose.
“No, no,” Toomey answered. “We were told the second doses were being held at the federal level, so we’re just ordering those. We’re in the process of doing that now.”
The state’s COVID vaccine website, shows order requests and fulfillments for providers across the state: https://dph.georgia.gov/covid-vaccine
Toomey said the national figures on Georgia’s vaccine administration are inaccurate. The figures, pulled from the CDC, rank the state one of the lowest in the country in actual shots administered. Acknowledging an outdated reporting system, Toomey said Georgia DPH is trying to figure out how the figures have been calculated.
At the same time, Toomey said the state’s website would soon be updated to separate first and second dose shots that have been administered. The state is asking private practitioners not to hold onto the current supplies in an effort to provide second doses, because the federal government is expected to send the second dose supply soon.
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On Tuesday, the incoming CDC director addressed supply concerns during a media blitz. Appearing in a video briefing by the Journal of the American Medicine Association, Dr. Rochelle Walensky addressed concerns about supply promises from President-Elect Biden.
“I don’t think the President-elect would have suggested 100 million doses for the next 100 days if both he and his team, and we, didn’t have a vision that we’d have this supply,” Walensky said.
Walensky has vowed to restore faith and transparency inside and outside of an agency she described as “muzzled” during the Trump administration. This week, she’s reiterated promises to always follow a scientific approach to the decision making process.
Walensky went onto talk about equity in distribution, aiding states with mass vaccination sites in stadium-like settings, mobile sites to reach rural residents and an effort to certify more professionals to act as vaccine administrators.
“We want to make sure that we can deliver volume, but also volume to the people in places that might be harder to reach,” Walensky said.