WAYCROSS, Ga. (WSAV) – Gov. Brian Kemp rolled up his sleeve Friday for the COVID-19 vaccine.
The 57-year-old governor has been eligible for the shot since March 15, and on Thursday, expanded eligibility for all Georgians 16 and up.
But Kemp said he wanted to wait until he could receive his dose in an area like Waycross, where many have been hesitant of the vaccine.
“We’re certainly seeing that not only in Georgia, but all across the South,” the governor said.
“I think our real issue continues to be in places like Waycross, and areas that are even more rural than this, to get the word out but also to have people be confident,” he added.
Waycross Mayor Dr. Michael-Angelo James, who has received his shot, said many members of the community have been hesitant because of past experiences with other vaccinations.
“When people are hesitant, it’s because of a lack of education as well,” he added. “Many of them have been educated recently, so that’s been helpful.”
Kemp said the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) has been working on outreach across the board, from the agriculture industry to local churches.
“To me, the most influential people to get others to be vaccinated are you,” DPH Commissioner Dr. Kathleen Toomey added.
“When people see their friends and relatives being vaccinated, when they see that they are doing well, and particularly when they realize that once they’re vaccinated they’ll be able to do things they want to do like see their grandchildren, be outdoors and be with other people,” she said, “I think that is what’s going to make a difference.”
Kemp got the shot with his 18-year-old daughter, Amy Porter, at the Ware County Health Department. He received the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
“I feel great,” the governor said after his inoculation. “Go get the vaccine. Let’s end this.”
He said omitting appointments at some mass vaccination sites around the state have helped boost daily numbers. Waycross was seeing a steady flow Friday — and the Savannah site is up to 900 to 1,000 shots a day.
Kemp said if needed, the state could scale back mass sites and redistribute doses to areas of higher demand.