GEMA Columbus mass vaccination site requiring no appointments through end of week

Updated: Mar. 25, 2021 at 7:43 PM EDT
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COLUMBUS, Ga. (WTVM) - Georgians over the age of 16 are now able to be vaccinated for COVID-19.

Many could be seen out and about taking advantage of it by visiting the local state-operated mass vaccination site at the Columbus Civic Center.

“Our experience was pretty good, but I know a lot of people have been frustrated because it has not been super simple,” said Columbus resident Martha Nelson. “I know my parents had a lot of trouble finding the vaccine.”

GEMA’s site as well as a few other locations across the Georgia have done away with appointments through Friday to help accommodate the influx of eligible people.

“We have the availability to do a certain amount per day and based on the appointment schedule, we were not meeting that threshold,” said Jason Ritter, GEMA on-site Columbus director. “It is not that we had just extra shots lying around, we just have the ability to provide it to more people.”

Ritter says now that the demand is greater, the next goal is to increase their operating power, meaning more nurses and national guardsmen to operate GEMA’s full eight lanes. Before, only five were being used.

“It was a pretty smooth experience,” said Columbus resident Angela Grier. “It was a long line, but it went fairly quickly.”

Other people who got their first dose of Pfizer’s vaccine say their only complaint was the lines, which caused some backup within the site.

“It was about two hours,” said Columbus resident Steven Nelson.

“It took about an hour and a half,” added Columbus resident Eddie Cottons.

Capt. Jordan Beck, National Guard Officer in Charge (OIC) at the mass vaccination site, says he is ready to step up to the plate and help with whatever it takes because this mission is one close to his heart.

“It really means the world to me to be apart of something here in our community with the assistance of folks from all over the state,” Beck said. “It really is something special to see all this come together.”

The on-site coordinator says that the no appointments will only last for Thursday and Friday, then starting next week, appointments will be required again. To pre-register for next week, the website is

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