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Georgia not expanding current COVID-19 vaccine criteria yet, as demand still higher than supply

Gov. Brian Kemp explained the top criteria that is taken into consideration for expanding the pool of people eligible for the vaccine.

ATLANTA — Gov. Brian Kemp and health officials held a briefing Thursday to update the state of vaccine distribution in Georgia.

The governor said vaccine supplies in Georgia will continue to remain scarce for now, as supplies are all up to the federal government. The state can only wait for the Biden Administration to announce when there will be an increase in supplies.

Kemp said Georgia expects to continue to receive its allotment of only 120,000 doses a week, which the governor explained is about 120,000 doses every week for about 2 million Georgians who currently qualify for them.

"Our total supply of 120,000 doses next week does not fulfill the demand from seniors and other at-risk eligible Georgians," Kemp said. "At this time we will not be expanding our current vaccine criteria beyond the 1A+ population," Kemp said. 

He explained that the top criteria for expanding who is eligible for the shots is overall supply and the number of currently eligible Georgians who have already been vaccinated.

"Neither of those two metrics has been met in order to expand eligibility," he said. 

However, as of next week, the state will no longer have to assign 40,000 of ifs weekly doses directly to nursing homes. Their supplies are now adequate that the full 120,000 doses a week will be available to everyone in group 1A+.

Another concern for many Georgians who have already received the shot is if there will be enough of the vaccine to go around for a second dose. However, Georgia’s Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Kathleen Toomey announced that people who received their first shot at public health facilities will be scheduled for their second shot.

"So, I do want to reassure everyone regardless of where you live, if you've gotten your vaccines by going to a health department, you will be able to get your second dose," Toomey said.

RELATED: Fulton health board streamlining process for people to get second COVID vaccine dose

Although the vaccine is in Georgia and more people are getting the shot each day, the governor said now is not the time to become complacent. He also reiterated that hospitals can't handle another surge. 

Toomey also mentioned that state has at least five confirmed cases of the new COVID-19 variant that was first identified weeks ago in the UK.

Officials still suggest that this variant is significantly more contagious. However, there is no evidence that the variant causes more severe illness or increased risk of death.