Staff at the Walker County Health Department continue to work tirelessly to get as many shots in arms as possible. Unfortunately, the amount COVID-19 vaccine being sent from the state to Walker County remains erratic and inadequate to meet demand. Inclement weather across the county last week further hampered efforts, delaying vaccine shipments.
Here’s a look at the numbers and answers to some frequently asked questions about the vaccine rollout.
Q: How many doses have actually been administered in Walker County?
A: 7,239 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered locally as of Tuesday, February 23rd. This number includes 5,019 shots of the first dose and 2,220 shots of the second dose.
Q: How does that number compare with neighboring counties?
A: The Walker County Health Department is part of the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) Northwest Health District. This district also includes Bartow, Catoosa, Chattooga, Dade, Floyd, Gordon, Haralson, Paulding and Polk counties. These numbers are through Monday, February 22nd:
Bartow – 11,327
Catoosa – 9,102
Chattooga – 4,487
Dade – 3,676
Floyd – 30,854
Gordon – 8,545
Haralson – 5,055
Paulding – 12,825
Polk – 5,162
Whitfield (31,812) and Murray (5,280) counties are in the North Georgia Health District.
Q: Why is the vaccine not distributed proportionately?
A: There are several factors as to why one county may have received more vaccine than other. One reasons is the number of health care providers and health care partners in the Phase 1a+ category. Generally, a county with a hospital has a greater number of doctors, nurses, lab technicians, etc. The number of vaccine administrators, such as pharmacies and physician’s offices, varies greatly from one community to another. Eventually, everyone who wants the COVID-19 vaccine will be able to get it.
Q: On average, how many vaccines is the health department giving daily, when vaccine is available?
A: Approximately a couple hundred a day. The staff could do more if we had more vaccine. Staff is getting every dose of vaccine received into peoples’ arms as quickly as possible and are not holding any vaccine in reserve.
Q: I’m a veteran. Are there other options for me?
A: Yes! Over 250 VA sites are administering the vaccine to veterans. Veterans should start by connecting with the Tennessee Valley Healthcare System Chattanooga VA Clinic for details.
Q: I called the Walker County COVID-19 hotline a couple of weeks ago and haven’t been called back yet to schedule an appointment. How long is the wait?
A: New appointments are being scheduled as soon as the state sends vaccine to our community. We only schedule appointments when we have vaccine. The hotline launched on January 25th, but due to the large number of calls those first two days, we are still working through those initial requests. If you called on January 27th or thereafter, we continue to ask for your patience. Four weeks is the current lead time from hotline call to appointment based on the current vaccine supply being sent to Walker County.
Q: Has anyone who called the hotline actually received an appointment for the COVID-19 vaccine yet?
A: Yes. The hotline has booked 1,034 appointments from among hotline callers as of Monday, February 22nd.
Q: How will I be notified for an appointment if I submitted my information through the hotline?
A: The hotline staff will call two or three times and leave a message each time if no one answers. If you are unable to respond in a timely manner, we will move on and try you again when more doses become available. When you submit your information, we ask for two phone numbers and will call them both when scheduling appointments. There are instances where we are scheduling same day appointments, and a response is required immediately.
Q: What is the procedure for the second dose?
A: When we have vaccine, we balance scheduling first doses with second doses that are due based on the amount of vaccine received that week. We proactively call individuals due for their second dose to schedule those appointments. Ideally, the second does of the Moderna vaccine, which is what is being administered in Walker County, is given 28 days after the first. However, the CDC says the second dose may be administered up to six weeks after the first dose.
Q: Are people from Tennessee, Alabama and other neighboring states getting vaccinated in Georgia?
A: Immunizations in Georgia are open to Georgia residents. However, there are instances where people who live in another state, but work in Georgia as a healthcare worker or first responder, would be eligible to be vaccinated in Georgia.
Q: Did the number to the hotline change?
A: We added a second number to try and take some of the stress off the originally published number, and in preparation for moving to Phase 1b. Both numbers, 706-620-0887 and 706-670-1234, ring the hotline.