The slow rollout and lack of availability of the Covid vaccine could change in the coming weeks if one Jackson County leader has his way.
Jackson County Board of Commissioners chairman Tom Crow has been pushing state health officials to expand the vaccine's access in the county.
"He's been raising hell," said one county staffer about Crow's efforts.
Crow and a group of other area political leaders recently met with the interim director of the Northeast Georgia Health District in a bid to have the county's new agricultural facility used a a major vaccine distribution point.
Crow said a target date of Feb. 11 has been penciled-in for a trial run of doing vaccinations at the ag facility.
Crow also had the county hire three temporary workers to help man the phones at the county's health department locations. The local health department is a state-run facility and doesn't answer to the county, but Crow said the department had been slammed with calls from people wanting to sign up to get a Covid vaccine.
He said the department was attempting to do all of its regular work, continue with Covid testing and also now administer vaccine shots. The department isn't ordering very many vaccines now because it doesn't have the staffing to handle a larger demand. He said the shots, around 100 per week, were currently being given only one day per week.
The county wants to also use local EMTs to help administer the shots, but although they give shots every day, they're prevented from administering the Covid shots until after they have special training.
Crow said some aspects of the vaccine efforts have been too "bureaucratic," especially considering people's lives are on the line.
In addition to the local health departments, some pharmacies have been administering vaccines in the county.
Like most of the rest of the nation, Jackson County is currently seeing a drop in some key metrics of the virus, including the rate of new infections.
But deaths continue to climb. January was the county's deadliest so far during the pandemic with 30 Covid deaths reported that month alone.
Since the pandemic began March 2020, 96 people from Jackson County have been confirmed to have died from the virus and 10 others are suspected to have died from the disease.
While most deaths have been to those over 60-years-old, one 20-year-old female has been reported to have died of the virus in the county.
As of Feb. 1, the 7-day average of new cases had dropped to 47 per day, down from a high of over 100 per day on Jan. 11.
The percent positive rate has also dropped from a high of over 32% on Jan. 6 to 16% on Feb. 1.