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VERIFY | Georgia protocols for signing up for second dose COVID-19 vaccine

Between GEMA, DPH, and all the pharmacies, there are different protocols to get the second COVID-19 vaccine in Georgia. Here's a breakdown of how to schedule it.

ATLANTA — As of Friday, almost three million Georgians have received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, according to the Department of Public Health.

When it comes to getting the second dose, many viewers have reached out to 11Alive looking for guidance on when and how to schedule it. 

"It seems to be like a needle in a haystack to find the second dose when the first dose wasn't all that hard," Shari Stuart said. 

Our VERIFY team looked into the process of getting signed up for the second dose. Here's what we found. 

THE QUESTION 

What is the protocol for signing up for the second dose in Georgia? 

THE ANSWER 

Between Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency (GEMA), Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH), and drug stores like CVS, Walgreens, Publix and Kroger, each have different protocols. Although, most will schedule your second shot at the time you get your first, or online from home. 

RELATED: How to schedule a COVID-19 vaccine in Georgia

WHAT WE KNOW 

Viewer Nick Renteria reached out to 11Alive after not receiving the email he was promised to schedule his second dose. 

"One person even said he thought I might even receive the email before I even left while I was sitting there waiting. So, he made it seem like it would be a quick process. I didn't receive the email," Renteria explained. 

The problem is, GEMA, DPH, and the drug stores have different protocols in place to schedule the second dose. 

In mid-March, GEMA, who runs the state's eight mass vaccination sites, was sending out emails for people to register for their second shot after receiving their first. That has since changed. 

Now, the agency said they are registering people for their second dose on-site to make things easier. 

"We are scheduling second appointments at the sites. While people are waiting in the observation area following receiving their first dose, one of our staff registers them for their second dose immediately so no email is needed. People leave the site knowing their return date and time," a GEMA spokesperson said in an email to 11Alive. 

RELATED: Verify: Will Fulton Co. contact you to set up your second COVID-19 vaccine dose?

Credit: WXIA

For DPH locations, you'll schedule your appointment at the time of your first dose, but a spokesperson told 11Alive that if a location doesn't do that, "you will get an email with a QR code and/or a link to schedule your second dose."

Big pharmacy chains like CVS, Walgreens, Publix, and Kroger are scheduling first and second doses online at the same time, with options to schedule only a second shot as well.

So we can VERIFY, each location has different protocols, but most will schedule your second shot in person at the time you get your first, or online when scheduling your first dose.

A pro tip from health officials is to double check your second appointment at the time of your first shot before you head out, or call your county's COVID-19 help line.  

Renteria was eventually able to get his second shot scheduled by calling the Fulton County hotline at 404-613-8150.

LATE ON THE SECOND SHOT? IT'S OK

We get the question every week from viewers, "what if I can't get the second dose at 21 or 28 days?" 

Our VERIFY team went to Dr. Carlos Del Rio, a professor and infectious disease expert at Emory University. 

He said sticking to the timeline is best, 21 days for Pfizer and 28 for Moderna. But, if that's not an option, waiting a little longer is okay. 

"I think going out is better than cutting it short, he explained. 

"I wouldn’t take the Pfizer vaccine after 14 days it’s too soon. I’d rather go at 28 days. Most people think you can easily wait 6 to 12 weeks without any problem," Dr. Del Rio explained. 

Any longer than that, it's a guess until scientists have more data. 

But we can VERIFY, if you have no other choice, waiting 6-12 weeks for your second dose is OK.

11Alive's Verify team is here to fact-check claims being shared in the community and online. Fill out the form below with something you'd like us to Verify.


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