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First shipment of COVID-19 vaccines set to arrive within days, Gov. Kemp says

Kemp said it would be "months" before the general public can get a vaccine.

ATLANTA — Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp said Tuesday that the state will be getting its first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine within days.

He stressed that it would be a very limited number -- and only for the most vulnerable, including those in nursing homes and healthcare workers. 

He said the vaccine will be in Georgia within seven to 10 days.

Kemp stressed that vaccines for the general public could still be "months away" and that Georgians should continue to follow CDC guidelines, wear a mask and practice social distancing. 

The Georgia Department of Public Health Commissioner Kathleen Toomey said the first shipment will likely include "several hundred thousand doses," but warned that that number could change. She said it could be more or less. 

"I expect that those numbers may change over time and we may have additional vaccine available depending on the overall national supply," Toomey said.

She also said the first "several hundred thousand doses" will not be enough for all the nursing homes and healthcare workers, but that they are working with the hospitals for distribution plans. 

She said Georgia will likely begin with the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. 

Toomey said the state is prepared with deep freezers spread across Georgia, which are needed for the Pfizer vaccine. 

Both vaccines require two separate doses, so she said communication will be key in making sure the second dose is given. 

After the first round, she said the state hopes to "address the needs of essential workers, including, for example, nuclear power plants, the power facilities, those individuals that keep our state running, as well as older individuals over 65 with multiple health conditions who may be at higher risk for complications." 

Toomey reiterated that the vaccine was safe and that there is so much science behind it. She said she "can't wait" to get one herself.

"Until we can vaccinate as many Georgians as possible, we will not have the level of immunity within the state as a whole to prevent continued spread," she said. 

Kemp also said he will get a vaccine, but said he'd leave it to health officials as to when. He said if it would boost the public confidence, he would get it early, however, he didn't want to take a dose from a front-line healthcare worker. 

As of Dec. 7, there were 448,683 cases reported in the state and more than 9,000 deaths since the pandemic began. Deaths from the virus soared to more than 2,200 a day on average in the United States. 

Experts say the crisis is all but certain to get worse from the fallout of Americans traveling in droves around Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s.

State health officials said the vaccine would be free of charge. 

Watch a replay of the full press conference here:

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