Gov. Brian Kemp has announced that all Georgia residents over age 16 can get the COVID-19 vaccine beginning Thursday, March 25.

Kemp said at a March 23 press conference at the State Capitol that he made the decision to expand eligibility based on the federal government shipping more supply to Georgia. An additional 42,000 doses of the vaccine are expected to arrive in the state each week starting next week, including the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

Gov. Brian Kemp speaks at the March 23 press conference where he announced the expansion of COVID-19 vaccine availability to all adults.

Georgia Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Kathleen Toomey said the state was racing to get as many people vaccinated before three different variants of COVID-19 get a foothold in the state.

“The variants might be less susceptible to the vaccine,” Toomey warned, noting that there are already cases of the United Kingdom, South African, and Brazilian variant in the state.

Kemp said officials were seeing “vaccine hesitancy” around the state and noted that there has been less demand for doses in South Georgia. He asked that civic organizations and clergy encourage their memberships to get inoculated as soon as possible.

With the expanded eligibility for the vaccine, Kemp warned that it would be more difficult to get an appointment. He asked residents to sign up at myvaccinegeorgia.comdph.georgia.gov/covid-vaccine, or to check with local supermarkets and pharmacies that are also offering doses.