Credit: Grant Blankenship/GPB
Georgia, In Last Place For Distribution, Has Vaccine Sitting In Freezers
Updated at 4:42 p.m. ET
Georgia is in last place among U.S. states in the pace of vaccination. Only Puerto Rico and Federated Micronesia are slower than Georgia at distributing COVID-19 vaccines.
As of noon Tuesday, 3,067,745 vaccine doses have been delivered to the state of Georgia and 2,085,047 have been administered, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That is 68% of the state's inventory.
That leaves 982,698 unused, many of which are sitting in a freezer, Dr. Amber Schmidtke said. There is no need to hold back anything for second doses.
Schmidtke is a former Mercer University professor and one-time Centers for Disease Control and Prevention expert in microbiology and immunology.
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Gov. Brian Kemp said previously that "providers and public health districts continue to see higher demand than we have and supply," but that is no longer the case.
Rather, inefficient logistics are to blame, Schmidtke said.
"With 900,000-plus doses on hand, the issue is NOT a lack of supply and that excuse is simply that — an excuse for poor execution," Schmidtke said. "It’s an issue of not efficiently matching up the dose to a person who needs it."
In her updated Wednesday COVID-19 newsletter, she added, "So the question is, what are we waiting for? Who are these vaccines being saved for? Vaccines don’t save lives when they’re in a freezer."
On average, Georgia has been administering 41,517 doses per day since Feb. 19 and the current supply on hand is enough for 23 days of administration at Georgia's current pace.
Meanwhile, only 9.2% of the adult population in Georgia has been fully vaccinated.
In a Wednesday afternoon press conference, Kemp was defensive when asked about Georgia’s last place slot in the CDC rankings.
“Well, we’re doing very well for who we're targeting,” Kemp said before claiming success at stemming coronavirus infections among the elderly. “You don't see on that website where Georgia is at 60% of vaccinating people over 65 years of age and the national average is 49%.”
Kemp also announced additional mass vaccine sites in Chatham, Ware, Washington, Bartow, and Muscogee counties.
This does not take into account Georgians without access to a car.
"A lot of seniors don’t have transportation," Schmidtke said in her newsletter. "We need to consider mobile vaccine strategies (think Red Cross blood donation buses but administering vaccines instead of collecting blood) to reach those who can’t come to the mass vaccine sites."
The CDC vaccine tracker page that has been in the news only lists vaccinations among those over 18.
The governor also touted his role in the vaccine rollout: "I believe that we have done more than most any state to protect those who are most vulnerable to COVID-19 with the limited supply that has been given to us by the federal government."
He also said that the state is "starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel," as the vaccine supply continues to increase.
Grant Blankenship contributed to this reporting.