Waters' vaccine

Dr. Brent Waters of Blackshear Family Practice receives the first dose of his COVID-19 vaccine at the Pierce County Health Department. Nurse manager Candi Lee administers the vaccine.

Longtime Blackshear primary care doctors and father-son duo Drs. Don and Brent Waters made local history Wednesday as they stepped up to be the first health care workers to receive the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine at the Pierce County Health Department.

Other than arm soreness, neither doctor reported adverse symptoms from the vaccine.

The health department received 200 doses last Tuesday to administer the first of the two-dose vaccine series to health care workers in Pierce County. The doses are given approximately a month apart.

The health department is responsible for vaccinating members of the health care community while Walgreens and CVS have contracted with the federal government to administer the vaccine in area nursing homes and long term care facilities.

Nursing homes in Georgia began receiving the first wave of COVID-19 vaccines Monday, bringing relief to the state’s most vulnerable group of people who have been hit hard by the virus for more than nine months.

About 39,000 doses of the vaccine made by pharmaceutical company Pfizer have shipped to elderly-care facilities as well as CVS and Walgreens pharmacies.

Gov. Brian Kemp noted more than 95 percent of all elderly-care facilities in Georgia have signed up with CVS and Walgreens for the direct-distribution program, which will cut out an extra step of routing vaccines through state officials.

“We are eager to see the vaccine make its way quickly and safely to our most vulnerable and to those brave Georgians who are giving them world-class care,” Kemp said Monday in Gainesville.

Staff at nursing homes who serve as “the firewall” protecting elderly residents will likely be vaccinated first, said state Public Health Commissioner Dr. Kathleen Toomey.

Toomey noted nursing-home residents account for 37 percent of Georgia’s deaths stemming from COVID-19, despite making up just 5 percent of the state’s overall positive cases.

“We hope with these vaccines we will begin to change those statistics and save lives,” Toomey said.

Harborview-Pierce did not return a call from The Times by press time to provide an update on when their vaccine doses will be received and administered.

So far, Georgia has been allocated 268,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine and 234,000 doses of a vaccine produced by pharmaceutical company Moderna. Health-care workers have been first in line to receive the vaccines starting earlier this month. More than 26,000 vaccines have been given as of Sunday.

Beau Evans of Capital Beat News Service contributed to this report.