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Potential immunity from COVID-19 in sight in Georgia

The state says the general public could start receiving the vaccine by summer; the pandemic will remain fierce in the next few months.

ATLANTA — We now know that in as soon as seven-to-ten days, COVID-19 vaccines may be in Georgia -- possibly hundreds of thousands of doses, to start, pending FDA approval. 

But the state expects that it will still take months before enough doses are available for most people, at least for those who are willing to get the shots.

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp and Georgia Public Health Commissioner Kathleen Toomey are warning people, again, that the pandemic will not end overnight as the vaccine slowly begins to flood the state, and that the risk of the infection spreading will still be dangerous. So, they are urging everyone to continue to follow all safety precautions.

How many doses of the vaccines will Georgia receive, at first?

Hundreds of thousands of doses, at least.

That amounts to a small percentage of what the state will need, but, the governor said Tuesday, that's a start.

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

“We will have a limited number of vaccines in the next week to ten days,” Gov. Kemp said. “The limited amount of vaccine doses we will receive in the coming days will be going to the most vulnerable (long-term care facilities’ residents and staffs), and those (health care workers) in the front lines of fighting COVID-19.”

How quickly will Georgia receive enough doses for all front-line health care workers?

"Certainly early January, I would think that we would have all health care workers covered,” Dr. Toomey said Tuesday.

What good are the vaccines if people don’t trust them to be safe?

In Atlanta, Morehouse School of Medicine President Dr. Valerie Montgomery Rice is helping lead a nationwide campaign to reassure African Americans, especially, that the vaccines are safe.

RELATED: Coronavirus in Georgia | Latest data for Tuesday, Dec. 8

“I know what it has taken to get this vaccine developed,“ Dr. Montgomery Rice said. “We have had Black scientists, Black clinicians ... who have been involved in the development of the vaccine... we have been in the room where decisions are being made.”

And she expects that Black health care workers on the front lines will be among the first in line for the shots.

“The people who are disproportionately impacted by this virus will also have the opportunity to receive the vaccine first,” she said. “And we would not ask you to do something that we would not do ourselves.”

“We have to reassure everyone that this vaccine is safe, effective, and there’s good science behind that,” Dr. Toomey told reporters Tuesday. “I can say, with great enthusiasm, I can’t wait to be vaccinated.”

RELATED: Gov. Kemp outlines Georgia COVID-19 vaccine plans

Gov. Kemp said he, too, will get the shots—and get them right away, he said, if it would help people feel more comfortable about the vaccines’ safety, but he said he also doesn’t want to take any doses away from front-line health care workers who need them right away.

When will the general public have access to the vaccines in Georgia?

Possibly by the summer, Kemp and Toomey said, meaning -- the threat of infection will remain well into 2021.

“Until we can vaccinate as many Georgians as possible,” Dr. Toomey said, “we will not have the level of immunity within this state as a whole to prevent continued spread.”

The state is advising hospitals and long term care facilities to decide themselves who is most at risk in their own populations, and then give those people the vaccines first, while waiting for more doses to arrive.

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