Residents across northeast Georgia who are 65 years or older can now schedule an appointment to receive a coronavirus vaccine at one of several events hosted by Northeast Georgia Health System (NGHS).

Seven COVID-19 vaccine clinic events have been planned through the end of January — including one in Winder on Jan. 23 — along with follow-up events at which participants will receive their second dose. The first was held Monday, Jan. 11, in Oakwood.

“It’s exciting to finally take this next step in the fight against the pandemic,” said Dr. Sakib Maya, medical director of Urgent Care at NGHS. “I can’t wait to start seeing patients receive their vaccines. We know how anxious they are and we’re proud to offer this service for our community.”

Appointments are required and walk-ins will not be accepted. The remaining event dates and locations are:

•8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 14 — Oakwood, Corporate Plaza, 3137 Frontage Rd., second dose on Feb. 11.

•8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 16 — Oakwood, Corporate Plaza, 3137 Frontage Rd., second dose on Feb. 13.

•8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday, Jan. 18 — Dawsonville, Veterans Park, 186 Recreation Rd., second dose on Feb. 15.

•8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Jan. 23 — Winder, NGPG Family Health Associates, 63 West Candler St., second dose on Feb. 20.

•8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Jan. 27 — Gainesville, NGPG Family Medicine, Medical Park 2, Suite 102, 1439 Jesse Jewell Pkwy., second dose on Feb. 24.

•8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Jan. 30 — Toccoa, NGPG Toccoa Clinic, 58 Big A Rd., second dose on Feb. 27.

“We are offering as many appointments as possible with the vaccine supply and staffing resources we have available,” said Bobby Norris, vice president of operations for Northeast Georgia Physicians Group. “We will add more appointments — at more locations — as soon as we can. In the meantime, we appreciate everyone’s patience.”

Schedule your vaccine appointment at nghs.com/vaccine-registration.

NORTHEAST HEALTH DISTRICT DRIVE-THROUGH CLINIC

With people 65 and older and first responders — including law enforcement — now eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine in Georgia and joining health care workers and long-term care facility residents in the “first tier,” the Georgia Department of Public Health’s Athens-based Northeast Health District has opened an appointment-based, combination COVID-19 testing and vaccination drive-through clinic at a new site, located at 355 Oneta St., Athens.

The district had also operated drive-through COVID-19 testing sites on Mitchell Bridge Road in Athens and at the Winterville Center for Community and Culture, but both of those sites are now closed.

Both testing and vaccination will be provided free of charge at the new site, but appointments are required. To make an appointment for either testing or vaccination, go to PublicHealthAthens.com or call 706-340-0996. 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. “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.”

W&A Engineering and Southern Mills Partners worked in concert to donate the parking area, tents and office space necessary for the testing and vaccination facility, according to a news release.

“The past year has challenged our community, and when we saw an opportunity to help, we took it,” said Jon Williams, CEO of W&A Engineering. “We wanted to be involved in the process of vaccine distribution and help end the COVID-19 pandemic.”

“We’ve been fortunate to work with many wonderful community partners. We are grateful to the Athens Area Humane Society for providing a space for testing for so long, and to the City of Winterville stepping up to offer us space,” added Nina Cleveland, emergency preparedness director for the Northeast Health District. “The new partnership with W&A Engineering and Southern Mills Partners on Oneta Street will allow us to double our capacity, getting the vaccine to more people quickly.”

“Vaccination is our number one 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,” added Dr. Stephen Goggans, the district’s health director. “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.”

Two vaccines have received emergency use authorizations (EUAs) from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) after undergoing rigorous clinical trials demonstrating their safety and effectiveness. Both vaccines were approximately 94- to 95-percent effective against COVID-19 in the trials, officials said, and both had similar side effects — temporary arm soreness, tiredness, headache, muscle and joint pain, and fever. Side effects went away on their own and were more common after the second dose. The vaccines are given in a two-dose series, several weeks apart.

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