A Georgia clinic that violated state regulations as to who is eligible to receive COVID-19 vaccines and gave teachers shots prior to their deployment is banned from giving vaccines for six months.
State health officials seized about 470 doses of Pfizer vaccine from the Elberton Medical Center on Friday after finding it helped teachers skip the line, according to KYFF4.
Georgia is still in the early stages of its vaccine rollout, where healthcare workers, residents and long-term care facility workers, law enforcement officers, and people 65 and over are eligible for vaccination.
Teachers are not yet eligible, but White House officials and the CDC have stated that it is safe for students and teachers to be back in school in person without being vaccinated.
According to numerous CDC studies, children are rarely infected and do not often spread the coronavirus in schools.
“Vaccine providers must adhere to the current vaccination phase to ensure that the state’s limited vaccine supplies benefit the most vulnerable,” said a statement from officials at Georgia’s Ministry of Health.
At a health clinic in Georgia, teachers were able to skip the vaccination line while vaccinating fewer than 1 million high-risk people
The Medical Center of Elberton (pictured) ignored Georgia’s guidelines for approving vaccines and gave teachers COVID-19 shots. Hundreds of cans were confiscated and not vaccinated for six months
The clinic said it had expanded its vaccination program beyond groups allowed by the state to receive shots to vaccinate teachers who wanted to return to face-to-face work.
About 40 percent of Elberton County’s school district teachers and staff have already received vaccines – likely before the line – officials told US News and World Report.
The clinic appealed the state’s decision but was denied.
The misconduct of the Medical Center of Elberton will deal a severe blow to the small, rural county that surrounds it.
It was the largest vaccination center in the region, receiving nearly 4.00 of the 5,000 doses given to Elberton since January.
The clinic is only allowed to keep the vaccine it needs for the second dose, and declining appeals means they will not be able to dispense any more vaccines for the next six months.
Doses from the fraudulent clinic are distributed to other pharmacies in the area. At least one was recently authorized to fire COVID-19 shots – likely the result of the Elberton debacle.
Georgia’s vaccination efforts have been slow, and some of the most vulnerable populations in the state are still likely not protected from coronavirus.
Only 7.7 percent of the population had one or more doses of vaccine, and the state has used only 60 percent of the doses distributed to it by the federal government.
Georgia Governor Brian Kemp (right) said teachers are not being given earlier access to vaccines. The state’s rollout has been slow and only the first priority group is vaccinated, including healthcare workers and people 65 and over (file).
Only 14 states are lower than Georgia for vaccinations: New Hampshire, South Carolina, Pennsylvania, Nebraska, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Texas, Tennessee, Missouri, Kansas, Illinois, Alabama, Iowa, and Idaho.
However, vaccines have been used across the country and many people at risk are still not vaccinated.
The White House and CDC updated their guidelines urging states to give vaccines to people aged 65 and over when reports surfaced that states were spilling doses of the vaccine because they couldn’t find people to give them to before spoiling.
It should speed up the rollout to protect more people faster, but not to take a back seat to the most vulnerable.
CDC has also said that keeping schools open for personal learning is a top priority.
And vaccinations for teachers are not necessary.
“Vaccinating teachers is not a requirement for schools to reopen safely,” said CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky during a press conference at the White House on Wednesday.
“There is mounting data to suggest schools can be reopened safely and that reopening safely does not mean teachers need to be vaccinated.”
Three studies found that there were no outbreaks that forced schools to close again as long as schools allowed students and teachers to take precautions such as wearing masks and social distancing during personal study.
In a study of six school districts in North Carolina, the researchers found no cases of child-to-adult transmission that occurred in school.