With COVID-19 vaccination numbers taking a dip, public health officials said reaching those reluctant to get the shot is the next phase in combating the virus.
Cobb & Douglas Public Health Director Dr. Janet Memark said there has been a decline in the number of people signing up for the shot over the last few weeks.
“Starting last week, we began to see COVID-19 vaccination rates begin to decline,” Memark said. “It appears that the people who really wanted them and were able to easily get them, are now vaccinated. We now have the task of reaching out to parts of population who need more information or better access and help to get them vaccinated.”
CDPH continues to administer the Pfizer vaccine at its Arbor Place Mall location.
Because of the slowdown, CDPH is now taking walk-up patients at the Arbor Place location.
Memark said that less than 400 people a day are signed up for appointments at the mall.
“We are seeing the numbers level off and are offering walk-ups to get as many people vaccinated as we can,” she said. “We have the capacity to vaccinate more than 800 people at this location.”
CDPH numbers show that only 14% of Douglas County citizens are currently fully vaccinated. Another 19% have received at least one vaccine. In the state of Georgia, 34% of residents have received at least one dose of the vaccine.
“We need to get these numbers up higher to return back to some normalcy,” Memark said.
Earlier this week, the state shifted its strategy in administering the vaccine.
Gov. Brian Kemp announced that the eight state-operated mass vaccination sites will shift to providing single-dose Johnson and Johnson vaccine and Pfizer second doses through May 21. First doses of the Pfizer vaccine will not be administered at these sites after Friday.
“As supply and availability of the COVID-19 vaccines has dramatically increased across the state, far more Georgians are now able to easily access the vaccine at their local pharmacy, grocery store, or doctor’s office,” GEMA/HS Director Chris Stallings said in a news conference Monday.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) revised its masking guidance for fully vaccinated Americans on Tuesday, April 27. The new public health recommendations outlined instances in which fully vaccinated individuals can forgo wearing a mask.
The CDC recommendations are:
• Visit with other fully vaccinated people indoors without wearing masks or physical distancing
• Visit with unvaccinated people (including children) from a single household who are at low risk for severe COVID-19 disease indoors without wearing masks or physical distancing
• Participate in outdoor activities and recreation without a mask, except in certain crowded settings and venues
• Resume domestic travel and refrain from testing before or after travel or self-quarantine after travel
• Refrain from testing before leaving the United States for international travel (unless required by the destination) and refrain from self-quarantine after arriving back in the United States
• Refrain from testing following a known exposure, if asymptomatic, with some exceptions for specific settings
• Refrain from quarantine following a known exposure if asymptomatic
• Refrain from routine screening testing if asymptomatic and feasible
“We all want to get back to our normal lives and engage in these activities,” Memark said. “It is important that we get our vaccination rates up, so that we can get there faster. I continue to encourage everyone to please plan to take whichever brand of vaccine they have access to — they all have excellent effectiveness. Until you get vaccinated, please continue to wear a mask, watch your distance, wash your hands and avoid large gatherings.”