Ga. Medical Center Suspended from Vaccine Program for Immunizing School Staff
The Medical Center of Elberton was vaccinating school employees who did not qualify under Phase 1A+ of the state’s vaccine rollout plan.
ELBERTON, Ga. — A medical center in rural Georgia has been suspended from the state’s COVID-19 vaccination program for six months after the facility administered the vaccines to unqualified employees from the local school district.
On Tuesday, the Georgia Department of Public Health was informed that the Medical Center of Elberton had been inoculating Elbert County School District staff members who are not part of the state’s Phase 1A+ category of people eligible for the vaccine, reports CNN.
The 1A+ group includes healthcare workers, first responders, long-term care facility staff and residents, and adults over 65 and their caregivers. In Georgia, educators are eligible for the vaccine in Phase 1B of the state’s vaccination plan.
Approximately 40% of the school district’s 500 employees have expressed interest in getting the vaccine, said Superintendent Jon Jarvis.
“It’s hard to wear a mask when you’re trying to teach students sounds. The vaccination for teachers, bus drivers, school nutrition workers … they should be considered in the first group, in my opinion,” he told WXIA. “If they want it, now they have to follow through DPH and other medical providers and follow what’s been put out. So, they don’t have the opportunity now.”
Elbert County schools have offered in-person learning since August. Only 20% of its students have opted to remain virtual. Jarvis said it is important for rural areas to have in-person learning due to poor internet connections, among other reasons.
“We want instruction face-to-face,” he explained. “When you’re in a rural county, of course internet is in and out. We’re fortunate that we have computers for all students.”
According to the DPH, during the suspension, the medical center won’t be eligible for additional vaccine shipments but will be able to use the remaining vaccine inventory for second-dose administration.
“It is critical that DPH maintains the highest standards for vaccine accountability to ensure all federal and state requirements are adhered to by all parties, and vaccine is administered efficiently and equitably,” said the DPH.
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