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Rural Georgia and Its Vaccine Distribution Hurdles

December 18, 2020

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Rural Georgia and Its Vaccine Distribution HurdlesAn article published in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, written by Yamil Berard, titled "Rural Georgia Faces Major Obstacles to Access to Vaccine," states that rural health officials have concerns about the number of dosages they can receive and whether they have the proper resources to carry out logistical arrangements. Raybun Spelts, a Miller County pharmacist, has created a local distribution plan to share with state officials how they can handle the challenges of storing the vaccines in freezing temperatures.

But since the start of December, Spelts was on pause and the last thing she heard from the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) was that they are reviewing her paperwork. Spelts isn't the only one with concerns, though. Many rural officials say that they have been left in the dark for weeks and many of their basic questions are left unanswered. Many don't know if rural hospitals will become distribution centers, if health care providers need to stock up on dry ice, and will they get enough help to distribute the doses.

State leaders are devoted to do whatever it takes to get the vaccines to hard-to-reach states, even going as far as having the Georgia National Guard step in. Dr. Kathleen Toomey, the DPH commissioner, said she is incredibly confident that enough doses will be available in rural areas. Governor Brian Kemp has been in touch with the head of the state's COVID-19 vaccine distribution task force, state Insurance Commissioner John King, to make sure residents are not left out.

CDC experts say rural hospitals and nursing homes will need a partnership with health departments so they can stagger shots over time. Rural health care providers will need staff to handle the recordkeeping required to keep track of the shots each person needs. "It's going to be all hands on deck," says Shawn Whittaker, the chief nursing officer at Miller County Hospital Authority.

For more information, please click on the link above or here: "Rural Georgia Faces Major Obstacles to Access to Vaccine"


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