The Northeast Health District is opening a new combination testing and vaccination site in Athens on Tuesday in response to heavy demand for the COVID-19 vaccine.
The new drive-through site is in the parking lot of W&A Engineering in the Southern Mills development at 355 Oneta St. They donated the parking area, tents and office space for the site, according to the health district.
Appointments are required and can be made by going to publichealthathens.com or calling 706-340-0996. Both testing and vaccinations are free of charge. Priority will be given to those who live or work in the Northeast Health District, which includes Barrow, Clarke, Elbert, Greene, Jackson, Madison, Morgan, Oconee, Oglethorpe and Walton counties.
“The response has been enormous—which is both wonderful and overwhelming. We are asking for the public’s patience at this time,” District Administrator Emily Eisenman said in a news release. “We have greatly expanded our hotline both in terms of staffing and provider support, but we are receiving thousands of calls a day, and hold times are still long. Anyone who is eligible and submits a registration form on our website will be called within a few days to schedule an appointment, which may be a better option for many.”
Starting Monday, the vaccine became available to Georgia residents age 65 and older, in addition to health-care workers, other first responders and long-term care facility residents who were eligible for the first doses. But across Georgia, providers have had difficulty distributing the vaccine.
“Vaccination is our No. 1 priority right now, and we are doing everything we can to get the vaccine to as many people as possible, as quickly as we can,” District Health Director Stephen Goggans said. “We’ve all been waiting for this moment, and we understand how highly anticipated the vaccine is to so many. Vaccine quantity is still limited, however, and we need everyone to keep doing their part by practicing social distancing and wearing masks or cloth face coverings in public as we work to protect our community.”
The district also announced that it’s closing testing sites in Winterville and on Mitchell Bridge Road.
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