During a briefing with the Douglas County Board of Commissioners last week, Cobb & Douglas Public Health Deputy Director Lisa Crossman said her agency is capable of doing more vaccinations provided they get more vaccines.

Crossman’s staff may get that opportunity as Gov. Brian Kemp has opened eligibility up to more Georgians.

Kemp announced at a press conference Tuesday that all Georgians at least 16-years-old can now get the shot, starting today.

“We are capable and ready to do more,” Crossman said. “We are like kids at Christmas waiting on the side of the road for those deliveries every week.”

Kemp also announced that the state is set receive another boost in its weekly shipment of vaccines.

Kemp said the state received 450,000 doses this week.

The Pfizer vaccine is the only vaccine approved for 16- and 17-year-olds. Those 18 and older can receive any of the three vaccines currently approved by the FDA including those made by Moderna, Pfizer and Johnson and Johnson.

Kemp urged everyone eligible to get vaccinated as soon as possible.

“This is our ticket back to normal,” Kemp said. “We’re getting closer to that point every single day.”

So far, Georgia has distributed roughly 3.2 million vaccine doses to groups that have gradually become eligible since mid-December, including all residents ages 55 and older, health-care workers, nursing home residents and staff, first responders, judges, courtroom staff and people with physical, mental or behavioral health conditions.

Crossman said last week that about 15,500 Douglas County residents had gotten at least one shot.

The majority of the vaccinations at the county’s mass vaccine location at Arbor Place Mall has been given to county residents.

Kemp is scheduled to get his first vaccine dose on Friday, likely in Waycross, according to some media reports.

In an attempt to address some hesitancy, especially in rural areas, Kemp said he has been talking with former University of Georgia football star and Super Bowl champion Champ Bailey to spread awareness about the importance of receiving the vaccine.

“I just want to encourage everybody to get the vaccine,” Kemp said. “We’re seeing this across the country, but especially in the South, we’re seeing vaccine hesitancy. There should not be hesitancy. This is a medical miracle.”

Kemp said that 70% of the state’s weekly vaccine doses were sent to metro Atlanta sites, where the demand is higher.

“If you’re in the metro where demand continues to be high, we’ve got great options,” Kemp said.

Georgians can pre-register for a vaccine appointment at myvaccinegeorgia.com even if they do not yet qualify under the governor’s eligibility criteria. They will be notified once they qualify and scheduled for an appointment.

Douglas County residents can visit the CDPH website https://www.cobbanddouglaspublichealth.com/covid-vaccine/ or they can go directly to the DPH site to make an appointment at Arbor Place Mall/Sears Parking lot: https://gta-vras.powerappsportals.us/.

Many chain retail pharmacies including Kroger, Publix, Ingles, Walmart, Walgreens and local pharmacies including Premier Drugstore are also offering the vaccine and have their own appointment systems separate from the public health departments.

A report from Capitol Beat News Service was used in this article.