DPH commissioner visits Savannah in push to increase vaccinations

Coronavirus

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – Top state officials continue to stress that raising vaccination rates is their top priority.

Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) Commissioner Dr. Kathleen Toomey made the trek to the Hostess City and spoke at Mayor Van Johnson’s press conference Tuesday. The visit was part of a statewide tour to encourage people to get the COVID-19 shot.

“You are the person that has made my job easier,” Toomey said, referring to Johnson. “You have really had such strong leadership here and made such good recommendations.”

Toomey told Savannahians that we aren’t through the battle against COVID-19 just yet. She also said supporting local businesses during this time is paramount to the economic recovery.

“Personally, I think we should all step up and do our part,” said Jon Hendrick, general manager of the Rail Pub.

Hendrick is vaccinated, and he says the majority of his staff at the pub is too. The general manager says it’s good for business.

“After the vaccination rollouts, we definitely saw trends moving upward for us,” said Hendrick. “It’s hard to compare anything to 2020, obviously, because we were closed so long for.”

“Seventy-four plus days,” he added.

Dr. Toomey says getting people back to work and communities closer to a pre-pandemic normal is best achieved through widespread vaccination.

“Please, if you haven’t gotten vaccinated, we have so many opportunities for vaccinations throughout the state,” said Toomey. “Just between now and the Fourth of July, we will have over 370 events statewide.”

According to the DPH, 36% of Georgians are fully vaccinated. In Chatham County, the vaccination rate jumped from 33% to 38% in the past day or so.

Coastal Health District Director Dr. Lawton Davis says the increase, seemingly overnight, was mostly a data lag. He says 1.2 million doses of vaccines have been administered statewide but weren’t entered into the tracking system.

“Tuesday, they added something like 750,000 doses administered,” said Davis. “We were fortunate that quite a few of those were in this area.”

It’s a step in the right direction, but Davis and others hope to be closer to 70% in the near future.

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