Resident seeks paths to COVID-19 vaccines

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   Habersham County has seen nearly 700 people vaccinated against COVID-19 since the doses first arrived here on Dec. 23.

   That number includes 300 at Habersham Medical Center and 378 through the Habersham County Health Department as of Thursday morning. 

   The county’s nursing homes will start vaccinations on Wednesday, Jan. 20, through Walgreen’s.

   The health department is hiring additional staff to help get more folks their shots, and they will stop the morning rapid tests for symptomatic first responders, school employees, and court personnel after Jan. 22 to free up more available hands, according to Dave Palmer of District 2 Public Health.

   Palmer also said the testing center in Hall County will be managed by MAKO Medical beginning on Jan. 22. Appointments for testing after that date can be made at mako.exchange/splash/GAmakotesting.

   “This will free up additional public health resources for making vaccination appointments and for administering vaccines,” Palmer said. “We hope to see more people getting vaccinated very soon.”

   The health department has been overwhelmed with calls seeking an appointment for the vaccine, and complicating matters is the second dose that has to be scheduled for 3-4 weeks down the road for everyone getting it now.

   “Our health departments and call center were taking calls for testing and vaccination appointments. With the testing removed, it will free up some capacity on the phone systems,” Palmer said. “We are also working to add capacity to the phone systems as our budget allows.”

   The call center can be reached at 1-888-426-5073 and online registration is available at www.phdistrict2.org. There is also a vaccine locator on the DPH website (dph.georgia.gov), and as more providers receive vaccine, they will be added to the list there. 

   MedLink in Demorest is the only private entity shown on the Habersham County list as of Thursday that is offering vaccines. MedLink’s COVID Vaccine Line is 706-754-4348. Ingle's grocery stores began offering vaccines this week, more information about which can be found by clicking here.

   HMC’s waiting list was up to more than 1,200 on Thursday morning.

   “Residents need to remain patient. Everyone who wants the vaccine will get the opportunity to get vaccinated,” Palmer said. “This is a two-dose vaccine so it is requiring twice the work in appointment scheduling and administering the vaccine.”