DPH News Release – Georgia Receives Oral Antiviral COVID-19 Treatments

Molnupiravir and Paxlovid™ Available at Select Retail Pharmacies

Atlanta – The Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) is announcing the allocation of Merck and Pfizer oral antiviral treatments for COVID-19 to select retail pharmacies in Georgia. Initial supply of Molnupiravir and Paxlovid™from the federal government is very limited. DPH anticipates additional allocations in the coming weeks as production increases.

Per guidance from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), initial allocations were made to federal pharmacy partners. DPH has partnered with Walmart, Walgreens, and Good Neighbor Pharmacy Group (a group of small independent pharmacies) to ensure coverage across the state. Pharmacies currently allocated treatments can be found on the DPH website at https://dph.georgia.gov/dph-covid-19-guidance.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued an emergency use authorization for molnupirvar by Merck and an emergency use authorization for Paxlovid™ by Pfizer as oral antiviral treatments of COVID-19. Early studies indicate these treatments may reduce severe outcomes from COVID-19 including hospitalization or death. The antivirals are recommended for treatment of individuals who are at high risk for severe COVID-19 or have underlying medical conditions. Both drugs require a prescription and should be initiated as soon as possible after diagnosis of COVID-19 and within five days of symptom onset. 

While antivirals may help treat COVID-19, vaccination is the best prevention against COVID infection. Georgians aged 5 and older are eligible for vaccination. Georgians 16 and older are eligible for boosters six months after completing their primary vaccine series of either Moderna or Pfizer (only Pfizer is authorized for booster doses in 16- and 17- year-olds) and two months after their J&J vaccine. To find a COVID vaccination location, visit https://dph.georgia.gov/covid-vaccine.

Basic prevention measures should also be followed to help prevent further spread of COVID and mitigate outbreaks of infection, especially in public settings: wear a mask, physically distance, and wash your hands frequently with soap and water.

For updates on COVID-19, follow @GaDPH and @GovKemp on Twitter and @GaDPH and @GovKemp on Facebook.

PROTECT NORTH GEORGIA COMMUNITIES FROM COVID-19

REDUCE THE SPREAD OF THE OMICRON VARIANT WITH A LAYERED MITIGATION STRATEGY

GAINESVILLE – COVID-19 cases have rapidly increased over the holiday weekend. The number of positive cases nearly doubled in Georgia since Friday due to the fast spreading Omicron variant. The recent spike in cases mirrors the first months of COVID-19 infections.

District 2 Public Health Director, Zachary Taylor, M.D., is concerned. “Vaccination is the most important strategy available to us against COVID-19 variants, but we must also continue to use a layered approach of protection to keep our communities safe and healthy.”

A layered approach means:
• Wear a mask while indoors despite vaccination status
• Get a booster if eligible
• Wash your hands often
• Social distance when possible
• Get a COVID test if feeling sick or have been around someone who has tested positive for COVID-19

District 2 Public Health has six FREE COVID-19 drive-thru testing locations: Forsyth, Franklin, Hall (2), Lumpkin and Union counties.

Registration is available online and is highly recommended before arriving at the testing site to greatly reduce wait times:
• Visit phdistrict2.org
• Choose the testing location
• Register on the Mako or LTS website by inputting contact information and a valid email address
• Results will be sent to the email address provided within 48 hours

North Georgia residents are at a greater risk of infection and hospitalization from the Omicron variant, many communities are less than 50% fully vaccinated. In comparison, the state of Georgia has a vaccination rate of 53%.

District 2 Public Health officials are urging communities to stay vigilant and use all mitigation strategies available to minimize the burden on hospitals, families, and communities.

For more information on COVID-19 vaccinations, testing, and to find district-wide COVID-19 data visit the District 2 Public Health website at phdistrict2.org.

One Year Anniversary COVID Vaccine

Our Best Protection Against COVID-19

Atlanta – One year ago today, the words Georgians had waited months to hear were finally being heard: “First shipments of COVID-19 vaccine arrive in Georgia.”

Twelve months since that first small allotment of vaccine, about 6,000 doses, and the initial shots were administered, more than 6 million Georgians have received at least one dose of vaccine, nearly 5.5 million Georgians are fully vaccinated, and 1.2 Georgians have gotten booster doses.

“Countless lives have been saved thanks to the COVID vaccine,” said Kathleen E. Toomey, M.D., M.P.H., commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Health. “A year ago, the vaccine couldn’t come soon enough – it gave us hope and a path out of the pandemic. People were anxious and lining up to get their shot.”

The Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) is grateful to all public health and healthcare providers for their dedication and continuing work to get shots into the arms of Georgians.

“Our COVID vaccines are safe and effective and can prevent severe illness and death from COVID,” said Toomey. “If you are someone who wanted to ‘wait and see’ about the vaccine, please don’t wait any longer. As long as people are not vaccinated, COVID will continue to spread, and variants will continue to emerge.”

Currently, the Delta variant is responsible for more than 99% of new COVID cases in Georgia, primarily in unvaccinated individuals. So far, there are only 5 reported cases of Omicron variant in Georgia, but that number is expected to increase. Scientists are still studying Omicron to determine the severity of illness it may cause and how vaccines will hold up against it.

All Georgians aged 5 and older are eligible for vaccination. Booster doses of vaccine are recommended for adults aged 18 and older who completed their first series of Pfizer or Moderna vaccine at least six months ago or two months ago for J&J vaccine.

Along with vaccination and booster doses, the CDC recommends general prevention measures such as wearing a mask in public settings, staying 6 feet from others, avoiding crowds and poorly ventilated spaces, and frequently washing your hands to protect against COVID-19. Individuals who have symptoms of COVID-19 or who may have been exposed to someone with COVID should get tested.

To find a COVID vaccine or COVID testing location near you log on to dph.ga.gov. For additional information on COVID-19, visit cdc.gov.

District 2 Public Health Urges Flu and Covid-19 Vaccinations as Flu Season Arrives

New COVID-19 data shows that COVID-19 cases continue to decrease from its peak in mid-August.  The total percentage of case positives over the last two weeks has declined since it peaked this past summer.

While COVID-19 cases continue to decline, we are entering peak flu and holiday travel season.   With the arrival of flu season, District 2 Public Health encourages residents living within District 2 to get vaccinated now against COVID-19 and flu to protect themselves and their families from the spread of both respiratory viruses and continue to ease the burden off the hospital system.

“We cannot predict the severity of each flu season; however, flu vaccination remains the best way for people to protect themselves, their families and communities from the flu,” said Zachary Taylor, District 2 Public Health Director.  “Residents who are not vaccinated against COVID-19 and anyone who needs a booster shot, now is a good time to get a COVID-19 vaccination.”

There is no harm in getting both flu and COVID-19 vaccines at the same time; they can be administered in one visit.  Children 5-18 years old are now eligible to receive their COVID-19 vaccine.  While Adults 18 and older have been eligible to receive the COVID-19 series since January 2021; a booster dose is available for specific groups of adults who have completed the two-dose series at least 6 months ago.

Any resident who has questions about getting flu or COVID-19 vaccines should speak with their health care provider.

Anyone who wishes to be vaccinated may visit any District 2 Health Department. Appointments are not required. 

For more information about influenza or COVID-19 visit phdistrict2.org.

Moderna Booster Doses Now Available at All District 2 Health Departments

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

GAINESVILLE – Booster vaccine doses for the Moderna and Johnson and Johnson COVID-19 vaccines have been approved for specific groups of fully vaccinated individuals. Although the booster dose is not required, it will help fully vaccinated people maintain protection over the coming months.

It is important to note, COVID-19 vaccines are working well to prevent severe illness, hospitalization and death, but with the introduction of the Delta variant, public health experts noticed a reduction of protections against mild and moderate disease.

For individuals who received a Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna COVID vaccine, the following groups are eligible for a booster shot at 6 months or more after their initial 2-dose series:

  • 65 years and older
  • Age 18+ who live in long-term care settings
  • Age 18+ who have underlying medical conditions
  • Age 18+ who work or live in high-risk settings

For people who received the J&J COVID vaccine, booster shots are also recommended for those who are 18 and older and who were vaccinated two or more months ago.

Eligible individuals may choose which vaccine they receive as a booster dose. Some people may have a preference for the vaccine type that they originally received and others, may prefer to get a different booster. CDC’s recommendations now allow for this type of mix and match dosing for booster shots.

Appointments are not required. If an individual prefers to schedule an appointment, they may do so using the VRAS scheduling system via the District 2 Public Health website. Hours of operation and locations may change due to demand. Reference the schedule of locations and hours posted on the public health website to ensure the vaccine site in your county is operational.

For more information on the COVID-19 booster dose visit the CDC website to learn more.

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