The vaccination site at Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital in Albany recently.

The vaccination site at Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital in Albany recently.

Credit: Grant Blankenship/GPB

All adults in Georgia over the age of 16 could be eligible for vaccination against COVID-19 beginning in April, Gov. Brian Kemp said during a Wednesday news conference at the Capitol.

"Provided we continue to see increasing vaccine supply," he said, "it is our intent to open up vaccination to all other adults, the first part of next month." 

Adults 55 and up will be eligible Monday, March 15. Registration in the category begins that morning.

"Make no mistake," Kemp said, "this is your opportunity."

In addition to the age-based eligibility changes, a number of other medical conditions will also be a part of the new eligibility this month. They include all cancers, asthma, cerebral vascular disease, sickle cell anemia, chronic kidney disease, diabetes, obesity and a lengthy list of co-morbidities. The full list can be found on the DPH COVID-19 vaccine site.

The opening of vaccinations to people 55 and older will precede the opening of five new mass vaccination sites around the state which will come the following Wednesday, March 17.

"It really does change everything," said Patty Rasmussen of Conyers. "When I saw the news, I literally had a flutter in my heart."

Rasmussen is over 55 and a Type 1 diabetic. Her children are all over the country. The pandemic means she's seen none of them, including a son in Texas who returned from a deployment to Afghanistan in 2019, right before the pandemic began.

"Usually when he gets back from a deployment, we go and see him right away," Rasmussen said. "And that's been hard."

Rasmussen said she hopes to see her son soon, as well as a grandchild now 2 years old. The grandchild was just months old when she last held the baby. 

"I'm just so happy," she said.

Kemp said that dropping the bar to people 55 and older opens vaccinations to over 90% of the people most statistically vulnerable to COVID-19.

"Adding these additional high-risk Georgians will mean that vaccination will be available to categories that have accounted for 92% of our deaths due to COVID-19 in Georgia," he said.

Kemp said that if there is enough supply and favorable data, all adults 16 and older could be eligible to receive their vaccines in the early part of April.

"We are not waiting anymore," he said. "As soon as we start seeing availability, we're gonna move quickly to open classes."