Wednesday, February 10, 2021

State raids clinic vaccinating teachers, seizes jabs

Rural community in shock after Georgia raids clinic vaccinating teachers | NBC News - Stephanie Gosk, Laura Strickler, Lisa Cavazuti and Corky Siemaszko:

February 5, 2021 - "ELBERTON, Ga. ... was still in shock Friday, days after state health workers raided the busiest medical clinic in the county and seized its Covid-19 vaccine supply because staffers had given doses to teachers. Some 470 shots of the Pfizer vaccine were confiscated from the Medical Center of Elberton, a private clinic that had been the largest provider of vaccinations in Elbert County, leaving behind just enough medicine to guarantee second doses to people who have already been inoculated. 'Everything that we had tried to do up until now to vaccinate our county was just laid to waste,' Dr. Jonathan Poon, who works at the clinic, told NBC News.

"'DPH took the action after learning the provider had been vaccinating individuals in the Elbert County School District who were outside of the current Phase 1A+ eligible population,' the agency said in a statement.... In an interview, Dr. Chris Rustin of the Department of Public Health, said the clinic's actions left them no choice. 'Going outside of the phase in almost a deliberate manner was something that we could not ignore," he said. "And we needed to make sure that others that are vaccinating understand that we have such limitations on our vaccine supply that we have to follow a plan that's been clearly communicated.'

"Still, as recently as Dec. 7, educators were considered by the state to be in that 'essential group,' Poon said, adding that they were able to vaccinate about 177 school workers before the public health department shut them down.... 'The first inkling that they might have run afoul of the state was Jan. 26 when the department called 'asking whether or not we had vaccinated teachers,' the doctor said. 'And at the time we, of course, believed that that was part of the proper procedure, so we said yes,' Poon said. 'And in less than 48 hours, the state handed down a ruling that our vaccine status was suspended and that we would no longer be able to vaccinate individuals.'"

"Terrie Glaude, a teacher in Elbert County, managed to squeeze in her second shot just days before the department descended on the clinic.... 'Everyone wants their kids in school,' Glaude said. 'And the way to keep them in school is to let our teachers be vaccinated along with the elderly population'....

"Marlene Lord, who is 68 and got her second dose at the clinic Thursday, said she would have gladly given her vaccination to a teacher. 'Being retired, I have the ability to stay away from it more than they do,' she said. 'I want the kids in school. And I think the more protection there is, the better it is.' Lord also said the public health department did a disservice to the community by taking the vaccines from the clinic.'

"DPH spokeswoman Nancy Nydam said they gave the clinic 30 minutes notice Tuesday that they were coming to collect the vaccines... The Medical Center of Elberton has filed an appeal to overturn the suspension, claiming it did not knowingly break any rules or regulations and blamed the error on 'a lack of clarification from the state,' the NBC affiliate reported....

"Under Georgia’s guidelines, teachers aren’t eligible for the vaccine unless they’re also health care workers, first responders or 65 and older. But the Medical Center of Elberton began vaccinating school employees last month after administering doses to the high priority workers 'but before completing the vaccination of seniors,' The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported in January....

"Covid-19 vaccinations are already being provided to teachers from kindergarten through high school in 25 states and Washington, D.C., although in some of those states it’s limited to select counties, according to a New York Times survey of vaccination eligibility rules. In a separate NBC News survey, teachers are eligible for a Covid-19 vaccination in 22 different states. Georgia, however, is not one of those states on either list."

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