Habersham Medical Center has 800 on waiting list for vaccines

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  • Habersham County Sheriff Joey Terrell gets his COVID-19 vaccine Monday afternoon at Habersham Medical Center from nurse Heather Nichols.
    Habersham County Sheriff Joey Terrell gets his COVID-19 vaccine Monday afternoon at Habersham Medical Center from nurse Heather Nichols.
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   Habersham Medical Center has stopped adding to its COVID-19 waiting list for now, as more than 800 people are on it waiting to get their shot.

   Kesha Clinkscale, HMC’s Vice President of Culture and Wellness, said Monday that hospital staff were working to call back an additional 400 people who have requested an appointment. 

   The surge came after the Georgia Department of Health expanded its phase 1A of vaccinations to include anyone over 65 and their caregivers along with law enforcement, 911 dispatch and fire personnel.

   Clinkscale said 24% of the hospital staff has been vaccinated and that they have already ordered 1,000 more doses of the Moderna vaccine for further distribution.

   Sheriff Joey Terrell, who got his initial vaccination Monday afternoon, said around 25 of his officers have taken the shot already.

   Dave Palmer, spokesman for District 2 Public Health, said the calls to health departments have been overwhelmed by requests for the vaccine.

   “We ask that everyone be patient. We understand that everyone is anxious, but everyone who wants the vaccine will be given the opportunity to get vaccinated,” Palmer said. “Currently, there is a limited supply of vaccine available at a small number of providers. As more vaccine is shipped to additional enrolled providers, access to appointments will improve over the days and weeks ahead.

   District 2 providers are planning with other healthcare outlets – including colleges and universities to utilize nursing students and other health care professionals – to help  vaccinate residents.

   North Georgia Health Systems announced Monday that it would schedule a series of vaccination clinics throughout the month of January, including one in Gainesville (8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 27, at 1439 Jesse Jewell Parkway, Suite 102) and one in Toccoa (8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 30 at 58 Big A Road). 

   Vaccine appointments can be scheduled online at nghs.com/vaccine-registration while spots remain available.

   HMC is asking anyone who is not yet on the list to not call until such time as the backlog can be cleared. 

   COVID-19 cases have come down some from a peak Dec. 21 (47.6 cases per day then to 33.6 as of Monday afternoon), but there were no fewer than 22 positive patients being treated at HMC on Monday. There have been a total of 97 deaths in Habersham County, 10 of which have come during the first 10 days of the new year.

   Habersham County Schools are still virtual until at least Jan. 25, as more than a dozen bus drivers along with 35 other staff members were out or quarantined when school was set to return Jan. 5.