GA medical facility that vaccinated teachers ahead of schedule loses appeal

ELBERT COUNTY, Ga. — A north Georgia medical facility that was suspended from giving COVID-19 vaccines after state officials said they vaccinated teachers ahead of schedule has been denied an appeal.

Right now, only medical personnel, residents of long-term care facilities and people over 65 are eligible for vaccines in Georgia.

Earlier this week, the Georgia Department of Health suspended vaccine supply to the Medical Center of Elberton after learning they were providing vaccines to teachers outside of the population that is currently eligible.

The Medical Center had been the primary vaccine provider in the small, rural county, receiving almost 4,000 of the 5,000 doses sent there since December.

After suspending vaccine supply to the facility, the Department of Health decided to go ahead and provide additional vaccines to the county’s five other providers.

[DOWNLOAD: Free WSB-TV News app for alerts as news breaks]

Officials at the Medical Center said they moved beyond the current state guidelines to vaccinate teachers who have returned to face-to-face learning.

“We plan to appeal,” Brooke McDowell, the center’s practice administrator, said Friday.

Channel 2 investigative reporter Nicole Carr learned Saturday that the center’s appeal has been denied, meaning the 6-month suspension of new vaccine shipments will stay in place.

The facility will be allowed to provide second doses they already have in their inventory, but no new doses will be delivered.

“During the suspension, the facility will not receive any new COVID-19 vaccine shipments. The Medical Center of Elberton may use vaccine from their current inventory to administer second doses to patients who have received their first dose through the facility. Vaccines not required for those second doses will be picked up and redistributed for use in Elbert County,” DPH said Friday.

There’s been an increased call from Georgia school leaders for educators to move up into the category, while state leaders cite a simple supply-and-demand issue.

[SIGN UP: WSB-TV Daily Headlines Newsletter]