Georgia’s mass vaccination sites will close in May

Georgia’s mass vaccination sites will close in May
FILE - The mass vaccination site in Chatham County opened on St. Patrick's Day at the Gulfstream property. (Source: WTOC)

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - The state-operated mass vaccination sites in Georgia will close in May.

An official with the Georgia Emergency Management Agency confirmed that the 13-week contract at the eight remaining sites will expire on May 21. There are no plans to extend that contract.

The eight sites are:

  • Delta Air Museum - Hapeville, Georgia
  • Habersham County Fairgrounds - Clarkesville, GA
  • Macon Farmers Market - Parkway, Macon, GA
  • Columbus-Muscogee Site - Columbus, Ga.
  • Washington County Site - Sandersville, Ga.
  • Chatham County Site - Savannah, Ga.
  • Bartow County Site - Emerson, Ga.
  • Ware County Site - Waycross, Ga.

The site in Albany, Ga. closed earlier in March.

In preparation for the closure, the sites will shift to providing the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine, according to a news release from the Office of the Governor.

First doses of the Pfizer vaccine will not be administered at these eight state-operated sites after April 30. You will only be able to receive the second Pfizer dose or Johnson & Johnson in the month of May.

“As supply and availability of the COVID-19 vaccines has dramatically increased across the state, far more Georgians are now able to easily access the vaccine at their local pharmacy, grocery store, or doctor’s office,” said GEMA/HS Director Chris Stallings. “With over 300,000 doses administered at the state sites over the last few months, our highly successful state-operated sites have experienced a notable decrease in demand over the last two weeks. This transition to the Johnson and Johnson single-dose vaccine for the next month allows us to complete the full vaccination cycle for Georgians who received their first Pfizer vaccination at our sites, continue providing COVID-19 vaccination to Georgians who wish to use our sites, and deploy Pfizer first doses previously allocated to GEMA/HS to other local providers across Georgia.”

Please click here for more information on the state-operated mass vaccination sites.

The mass vaccination site in Savannah

“It’s been a good mission, you know, we’ve been here to help out the community. It’s one of those where we brought in the increased capacity, I believe we’ve done that and I am excited to finish it off,” said Collin Hopf, the Savannah site manager.

GEMA’s mass site at Gulfstream in Savannah has given more than 23,000 shots in the past six weeks. They say right now about 75 percent of those coming are there for the second dose while 25 percent are getting their first shot.

The site opened to make it easy for people to get a shot, like Tiffany who got her second dose on Tuesday.

“I like to travel a lot. I like to go to different states a lot. I just want to be more comfortable that I’m not going to get stuck in a situation where I’m not really welcome or just cause any drama, so I was like well I’m healthy they made it convenient for me to get it. I get the donuts, so I’m like may as well be one of those 20 percent people,” Chatham County resident Tiffany Gouge said.

Chatham County has a fully vaccinated rate of 22 percent.

GEMA officials say they are still seeing 500 appointments a day at their Gulfstream site, but they are gearing up for hurricane season and vaccine clinics are widely available in the county.

“You know the capacity is there, you can get a shot or a vaccination if you’d like to so that factored into a lot of the decision making,” Hopf said.

Some say vaccine efforts have been great, but they want to see more sign up to get their shot.

“My whole family has been vaccinated with both shots. I think there’s a lot of people that it’s not so much vaccine hesitancy as it’s just misinformation that’s been put out and I think if people realized that they’d get more into gear by getting these shots so people could get better cause right now they are not,” Chatham County resident Linda Waugh said.

The mass site will continue to offer Pfizer for second doses, but before they leave, they will offer the Johnson and Johnson one-dose shot for those coming for the first time.

“It allows us to knock out those who need to finish off with that second Pfizer shot, but in addition to that it also helps us to support those who wish to come and get their first shot,” Kopf said.

Copyright 2021 WTOC. All rights reserved.