By Tia Lynn Ivey
As coronavirus cases hit an all-time high in Georgia, vaccine distribution has begun across the state, but not everyone is eligible to receive it just yet.
Due to limited supply, the Georgia Department of Public Health has released a tiered system to administer the COVID-19 vaccine to those who need it most, before it becomes available to the general public. However, people can pre-register to get the vaccine and be placed on a waiting list.
According to the GDPH, The first phase of vaccines, which is already underway, will be given to healthcare workers and residents and staff of nursing homes. According to Georgia Governor Brian Kemp, the second phase of distribution will go to people over the age of 75 and first responders, which includes law enforcement officials and firefighters. The second phase is slated to begin by mid-January. The third phase will offer the vaccine to people between the ages of 65-74 and critical/essential infrastructure employees. The fourth tier will be for people over the age of 65 or people under the age of 65 with comorbidities. The fifth tier will open up the vaccine to the general public.
According to the GDPH, “Georgia has already administered tens of thousands of COVID-19 vaccines, having received 177,450 doses of the drug produced by Pfizer and BioNTech and another 197,900 doses by Modern-a.”
Both vaccines have received approval for emergency use from the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA). According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), both Moderna’s and Pfizer’s vaccines rely on mRNA technology to inoculate patients from catching COVID-19, resulting in high success rates of 90-plus percent.
“Like all vaccines, COVID-19 mRNA vaccines have been rigorously tested for safety before being authorized for use in the United States,” said a press release from CDC. “mRNA technology is new, but not unknown. They have been studied for more than a decade. mRNA vaccines do not contain a live virus and do not carry a risk of causing disease in the vaccinated person. mRNA from the vaccine never enters the nucleus of the cell and does not affect or interact with a person’s DNA.”
The CDC praised the new vaccines for benefits not found in other vaccines.
“mRNA vaccines have several benefits compared to other types of vaccines including use of a non-infectious element, shorter manufacturing times, and potential for targeting of multiple diseases. mRNA vaccines can be developed in a laboratory using a DNA template and readily available materials,” said a CDC press release. “This means the process can be standardized and scaled up, making vaccine development faster than traditional methods.
In addition, DNA and RNA vaccines typically can be moved most rapidly into the clinic for initial testing. In the future, mRNA vaccine technology may allow for one vaccine to target multiple diseases.”
Health officials are urging citizens to remain vigilant in reducing the spread of COVID-19, since the vaccine requires two doses weeks apart and will not be available to the general public for months. According to GDPH, both vaccines were rigorously tested throughout the United States and across the world before being approved for use.
“Over 18,000 people received the vaccine and were compared to a second group of people who did not receive the vaccine. Both groups were followed for approximately two months after receiving the second dose. There were no serious or life-threatening events in either group. The most commonly reported side effects of the vaccine were pain at the injection site, tiredness, headache, muscle pain, chills, joint pain, and fever. These side effects typically lasted several days and went away on their own,’ said a press release from the GDPH.
“All Georgians are urged to continue to follow basic COVID-19 prevention measures: wear a mask, practice social distancing, wash your hands frequently and follow the guidance of Public Health and the guidelines in the Governor’s Executive Order,” said a spokesperson from the GDPH.
Morgan County is part of The Northeast Health District, which has a registration form for people who want to receive the vaccine. Once registered your name will be put on a waiting list to expedite the process once the vaccine becomes available to your specific eligibility status.
“The Northeast Health District is prioritizing COVID-19 vaccine appointments for those who live or work in our district, which includes the counties of Barrow, Clarke, Elbert, Greene, Jackson, Madison, Morgan, Oconee, Oglethorpe, and Walton,” said a press release from the Northeast Health District. “If you do not live or work in one of these counties, we encourage you to contact your local health department or health district. “
To pre-register for the vaccine, visit: www.publichealthathens.com/wp/programs/infectious-disease/coronavirus-covid-19-information/covid-19-vaccination/non-healthcare-covid-vaccine-pre-registration.