Grady Hospital ICU nurse Norma Poindexter gets the COVID-19 vaccination while Georgia Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Kathleen Toomey and Gov. Brian Kemp observe.

Grady Hospital ICU nurse Norma Poindexter was the first frontline worker to get a COVID-19 vaccination at the Downtown facility during a televised press conference on Dec. 17.

Shortly afterwards, Georgia Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Kathleen Toomey also received an inoculation for the cameras.

Gov. Brian Kemp called the rapid development of the vaccines a “medical miracle.” Georgia received an initial 84,000 doses from Pfizer and will get 60,000 more next week. Kemp said Moderna would supply 174,000 doses next week.

Georgia’s frontline healthcare workers and those living in longterm care homes are receiving the first doses. Healthcare workers at Emory, Wellstar, and Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta were also getting inoculations starting Thursday.

Kemp said there would be a “phased approach to vaccinating Georgia.”

“We’ve never undergone a mass vaccination campaign like this in our history,” he said. “There will be challenges and hurdles and we ask the public for patience. It will be months before the general public gets vaccinated.”

After receiving her shot, Toomey said she was  “relieved and so excited.”

“The pandemic has taken an incredible toll on Georgia and the healthcare community,” Toomey said. “There’s a ray of hope now and I feel a re-energized sense that we’ll get through this together.”

Kemp, who said he would be getting the vaccine when it was appropriate, called the arrival of the vaccine an “awesome moment” and praised President Donald Trump and the government’s Operation Warp Speed project to develop and deploy the vaccine.

“We have to keep our foot on the gas,” Kemp said. “There’s a lot of work to get the vaccine distributed. Healthcare and nursing homes are getting it first, but when we get to the general public, it will be a different logistical lift.”

Kemp said he’s still waiting on federal guidance for the wider distribution, but pledged the state would do “everything in our power to get the vaccine out quickly.”

The governor also acknowledged the post-Thanksgiving spike in the virus, and encouraged Georgians to not gather in groups over the holidays, wear masks, and wash their hands  to help slow the spread.

Collin Kelley

Collin Kelley has been the editor of Atlanta Intown for two decades and has been a journalist and freelance writer for 35 years. He’s also an award-winning poet and novelist.