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Georgia rolls out vaccinations for teens, young adults: What you need to know

Published: Mar. 25, 2021 at 10:49 AM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - It’s a big day in Georgia’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout.

Starting today, anyone 16 or older in the state can now sign up for vaccination.

Georgia’s Department of Public Health credited this big change with increased vaccine supply -- and how quickly they say the state was able to vaccinate seniors.

Georgia now joins just a handful of states allowing full vaccine access.

Since 16- and 17-year-olds can now get vaccinated, Georgia health officials say they should only get the Pfizer vaccine.

They say that’s the only one approved right now for those ages.

Experts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say both the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines are currently only recommended for people 18 and older. Those companies did not include 16- and 17-year-olds in their studies, but Pfizer did.

You sign up to get the Pfizer vaccine at the state’s mass vaccination site in Washington County or at AU Health’s vaccination hub on Washington Road.

For other local health departments, health care providers and pharmacies, you’ll need to check ahead of time to see which vaccine they are offering.

For people living in South Carolina, the Department of Health and Environmental Control says right now, the switch to open up vaccines to everyone 16 and up will begin May 3.

By the numbers: Testing, cases are declining

With so many more people getting vaccinated, Augusta University Health says its COVID-19 testing site is hardly being used now.

Officials say last week, they tested 900 people in total. That’s the same number AU Health used to report in one day. Staffing at the test site has been cut in half in the past month.

Med-Now is also cutting back. It’s testing about 700 people a week.

Doctors say they are expecting a slight surge in testing as we get closer to the Masters Tournament.

Even as testing declines across the two-state region, COVID-19 cases are, too. Cases have been trending downward for several weeks now.

South Carolina reported just 436 new cases Wednesday. Just two months ago, case numbers were as high as 6,000 a day.

In Georgia, there were 912 new cases reported Wednesday. That’s down about 9,000 since our last spike in January. At its peak on Jan. 8, Georgia reported more than 10,300 cases.

Where to get a vaccination

  • There are periodic appointments available at AU Health’s vaccination hub in Augusta. You can also sign up for appointments at the Washington Square location, 2834 Washington Road. Sign up at https://www.augustahealth.org/vaccine.
  • In Washington County, a state-run drive-thru clinic is located at the Word of Life Church in Sandersville. You can register at MyVaccineGeorgia.com.
  • Optim Medical Center-Screven will be holding a free, drive-thru first-dose Moderna vaccine clinic on March 27 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on the hospital campus, 215 Mims Road in Sylvania. Enter at the main hospital entrance off Rocky Ford Road. The date and time for the second dose will be provided after first dose has been administered. It’s open to Georgia residents who meet the current COVID-19 vaccine eligibility requirements, listed below. Appointments are required by calling 912-629-3555.
  • Aiken Regional Medical Center has partnered with the University of South Carolina Aiken and will hold vaccination clinics at the student activity center, 471 University Parkway. Both the first dose and second dose will be available to those eligible in Phase 1A and 1B. The following clinic is open for appointments: 1,000 Moderna first dose vaccinations available March 31 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. with the second dose scheduled for April 28, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. If an individual is Phase 1A or 1B eligible, is already registered in the CDC VAMS (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Vaccine Administration Management System) portal and has not scheduled an appointment, they can log in to the portal and select an available vaccine clinic location, date and time, and will be able to schedule an appointment for these clinics. Appointment availability is first-come, first-served. Registration instructions for those included in the current eligible phases are available at aikenregional.com. To find out who’s included in the current phase and future phases, visit scdhec.gov/vaxfacts.
  • University Hospital is holding a registration-only Moderna vaccination clinic for Phase 1B of the population on Thursday from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at Old Macedonia Baptist Church, 200 Macedonia Road, North Augusta. Register at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/university-hospital-covid-vaccine-clinic-phase-1b-tickets-147426351185.
  • Family Health Centers will hold walk-in vaccine clinics in Orangeburg County for anyone in Phase 1A and 1B. They’ll be open from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. or while supplies Thursday at the Orangeburg County Fairgrounds, 350 Magnolia St., Orangeburg; and Froday at St. Mark United Methodist Church, 8502 North Road, North, S.C.; Lovely Hill Convention Center, 5905 W. Jim Bilton Blvd., Saint George. For more information on the COVID-19 vaccination, please call 803-531-6900
  • Bamberg Family Practice in Bamberg is offering Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines to the public on Thursdays from 2-5 p.m., first-come, first-served every week, with scheduled return appointments for the Moderna vaccine.

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