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Kemp: Vaccine distribution going 'a little slower' than anticipated

A logistics expert at Georgia Tech says that's expected, as this vaccine distribution is a huge undertaking that requires a lot of coordination and people.

ATLANTA — Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp said Monday that vaccine distribution has been "a little slower rolling out than everyone initially thought." 

On Tuesday morning, less than 15% of available shipped vaccines had been administered. A total of 295,375 vaccines (including Pfizer and Moderna) had been shipped to Georgia but only 43,469 had been administered. 

Tuesday afternoon, those numbers slightly increased with a total of 372,900 vaccines shipped to Georgia and 52,242 administered.

"It's well documented that it has been a little slower," said Governor Kemp in an interview with 11Alive. "That's understandable."

Logistics and supply chain expert at Georgia Tech, Pinar Keskinocak agrees. She says this vaccine distribution is a huge undertaking that requires a lot of coordination, supplies and people.

"For a vaccine that is new and we're trying to distribute at this scale, when I think of the logistics that go behind, I'm not surprised about the gap," said Keskinocak, who is also the director of the Center for Health and Humanitarian Systems.

Keskinocak says we can blame this gap on factors such as how long it takes to transport a vaccine from its port of shipment to where it'll be administered.

RELATED: Coronavirus in Georgia | Latest data for Tuesday, Dec. 29

"You need to train healthcare staff and supplies to administer vaccines, you need to line up schedules, you need to ask questions and share information of the vaccine prior to the administration, you need to watch and monitor people for potential side effects after vaccinations and this might take anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes," she added.

She expects the numbers to change soon now that long-term care facilities and nursing homes are administering the vaccines, too.

As we go forward and more people become eligible to receive the vaccine, she predicts more struggles.

"Once we progress into phase 1b, communicating priorities, scheduling -- all of these will get more complicated," she said. "I am cautiously optimistic but would like to emphasize the importance of logistics in trying to get the vaccine out in a timely and equitable manner."

While things move slower than anticipated throughout the state, vaccinations are moving quicker in long-term care facilities like Sterling Estates senior care communities.

95% of residents and 50% of staff there have already been vaccinated as of this week. The rest of their staff will be vaccinated next week. 

85-year-old Marvin Moon was the first one in line to receive it there. 

For 30 years, Moon ascended through the ranks of the Atlanta Police Department. On Christmas Eve, he advanced to become one of the first seniors in Georgia to be vaccinated. 

"I've talked to so many people here that are a lot older than me and most of them have said 'hey I don't feel anything'," Moon said. "I get a little bit [of] soreness on this arm but I haven't heard the first one complain."

According to health commissioner Dr. Kathleen Toomey, long-term care facilities account for 5% of the state's COVID-19 cases but 37% of deaths linked to the virus. 

RELATED: Cobb County residents some of first seniors to get COVID-19 vaccine

That's why Sterling Estates suspended all non-essential visits through December 31. 

Moon says he hasn't been in the same room as his daughter in months and can't wait for that to change. When asked what's the first thing he wants to do once he's vaccinated twice, he said:

"Oh hug and kiss [my daughter]," he said. "And I'm hoping that - I don't know how long it's going to be - until they say you don't have to wear these either," Moon added, referring to his mask.