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Kemp: Georgia will get small boost from vaccines sent to pharmacies by President Biden

The Biden administration announced this week that the federal government would be allocating 1 million doses to private pharmacies across the country.

ATLANTA — Gov. Brian Kemp said Wednesday that Georgia would get a small boost from a Biden administration plan to send 1 million COVID-19 vaccine doses to private pharmacies around the country.

The governor said during a press briefing at the Jim Miller Park vaccination site in Cobb County that, with the additional doses filtering into the state, Georgia's allocation would be more than 154,000 doses per week starting with next week's shipment.

Gov. Kemp cautioned, however, that demand for the vaccine would still be "drastically outpacing the supply that were seeing in our state."

"It's not gonna change our overall supply shortage," Kemp said of the additional doses coming from the federal government to pharmacies. "Any additional vaccines are certainly welcome news, but we realize it's not gonna significantly impact the overall lack of supply."

The governor said that in Georgia, so far, more than 1 million people have now had at least one shot administered, with more than 500,000 of those people being seniors.

Kemp addressed continuing calls for vaccine eligibility to be expanded, particularly to teachers, by saying there are still roughly 1.3 million adults 65 and over in Georgia who have been made eligible and have not yet received the vaccine.

"My message to everyone hoping for current vaccine eligibility to be expanded to more Georgians remains the same: Dr. Toomey and I hear you, and trust me, we will want nothing more than to expand the criteria, but our current supply simply does not make that feasible at this time."

"But it is high on our radar," Kemp added.

Dr. Kathleen Toomey, the commissioner for the Department of Public Health, said there was a "misinterpretation that if someone isn't in a group that we don't value them or we don't think it's important to have them vaccinated."

"We want everybody vaccinated," she said. "I think the problem is always going to be adequacy of vaccine and ensuring a risk-based approach... but obviously we want teachers, who are critical to all of our communities, to be as vaccinated as soon as we can."

Despite progress in getting more vaccine doses to more people, the governor cautioned that the state is still a ways away from returning to normal, and urged the public not to lose vigilance.

"The vaccine is here, we're getting more shots in arms every day, but we are also still in a deadly race against a highly contagious virus," Kemp said.