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Nursing home employees included on vaccine list

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Among the first line to be offered COVID-19 vaccine

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    Kathleen Toomey

More clarity was gained earlier this week in terms of Georgia’s COVID-19 vaccine strategy.

Kathleen Toomey, the commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Health, clarified that nursing home “staff” will be included as “Tier 1A” recipients of the COVID-19 vaccine, which is expected to be rolled out ‘in the next week to 10 days.” Presumably, this will include employees at Baldwin County’s three traditional nursing homes, as well as workers at the Georgia War Veterans Home and Bostick Nursing Center around the old Central State Hospital campus.

Along with nursing home employees and residents, the other group listed in “Tier 1A” are “healthcare workers on the front lines.” Toomey added that the state will utilize both the Moderna and Phizer vaccines, each of which requires two separate shots, scheduled roughly three weeks apart.

During the same press conference, Gov. Brian Kemp stressed that “the general public will not be able to be vaccinated for months,” adding that Georgians still need to “hunker down” and continue wearing masks and social distancing.

Toomey said that messaging will be key, especially with African-Americans. A recent Pew Research Center poll found that 42 percent of African-American respondents indicated that they would be willing to receive the vaccine, which went along with 61 percent of Hispanic-American respondents, 63 percent of white respondents and 83 percent of Asian-American respondents. Georgia now has the thirdmost African-Americans of any state in the country, trailing only Texas and Florida.

Toomey added that both the Moderna and Prizer shot require two doses, and both can produce side effects. If people experience side effects with the first shot, according to Toomey, they may be less willing to come back several weeks later for the follow-up shot.

“I want to be absolutely transparent with the fact that, often with the second (dose) and maybe even the first dose, mild fever, pain in the arm and flu-ike feelings (can happen),” she said. It’s to be expected (and) not a problem that needs to be worried about.”

Toomey added that, personally, she “can’t wait to be vaccinated” and “enthusiastically” looks forward to it.