Phoebe ready as COVID-19 vaccine expansion goes into effect

Phoebe ready as COVID-19 vaccine expansion goes into effect

ALBANY, Ga. (WALB) - Phoebe Putney Health System staff said they didn’t see a large increase in requests for the COVID-19 vaccine during the first day Georgia Governor Brian Kemp’s order to expand vaccinations to anyone 16 and older went into effect.

“Today (Thursday) we’ve had a pretty steady stream of phone calls, again, we can make appointments,” said Dr. Kathy Hudson, the chief medical officer at Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital.

Dr. Kathy Hudson
Dr. Kathy Hudson (Source: WALB)

Right now, Phoebe said they don’t have the patient demographics ready for everyone that came in Thursday for vaccinations. So, even if there were teenagers coming through, they won’t have that data ready to hand out just yet.

However, there is plenty of time to get on the list to receive a vaccine, all you have to do is call.

“Previously, we’ve been able to do next-day appointments, and so you may not be able to get a next-day appointment if we have enough people call in now, but still, call in now. You’ll get the first available appointment and it may be a day or two,” said Hudson.

As of Thursday, Phoebe Putney Health System has vaccinated more than 40,000 people, with an average of 500 a day, according to staff.

Phoebe officials said now and even before the new vaccination expansion, patients still question the safety of the vaccines.

“Right now, we’ve had over 121 million people in the United States receive the vaccine and so I really feel that it is safe. Physicians would not support it if they didn’t feel it was safe,” said Hudson.

Phoebe believes call volumes to schedule an appointment will increase as we head into next week.

“Appointments are open to accommodate the 16 and over,” Hudson told WALB News 10.

Currently, only the Pfizer vaccine is approved for 16 and 17-year-olds, which Phoebe carries and is ready to administer.

If you want to schedule an appointment for your teen or yourself, you can call Phoebe at (229) 312-1919, or you can use Phoebe’s app.

Phoebe was also handed more patients last week after the GEMA mass vaccination site closed nearly a week ago.

Phoebe said they were able to accommodate the patients left behind after the GEMA mass vaccination site closed Friday at 5 p.m.

Phoebe said it had more than enough supplies to handle the new patients and that officials knew about the closure a couple of days in advance.

“They gave us their supplies. We could accommodate their appointments that were still outstanding, so it was a collaboration,” explained Hudson.

In a statement released Monday by GEMA, the organization said the closure came after not seeing enough people at the Albany location. They said the site averaged less than 100 appointments per day. So vaccines and staff were redistributed where they were needed the most, according to a GEMA press release.

WALB is taking the questions you’ve been asking about the site closing to state leaders. Once we know more we will provide updates.

Also on Thursday, Phoebe did its part to forever immortalize their patients claimed by the COVID-19 virus.

On nationally recognized Doctor’s Day, Phoebe donated $5,000 to its foundation’s paver program, which supports Phoebe’s chaplaincy services.

The donation will be used to purchase memorial pavers in honor of every Phoebe patient who died of COVID-19.

Rev. Will Runyon was part of Thursday’s ceremony and was with most of Phoebe’s COVID-19 patients as they said goodbye to their loved ones.

Rev. Will Runyon
Rev. Will Runyon (Source: WALB)

“It’s really hard to describe just to be that person holding the iPad for a family that’s saying goodbye to their loved one. And for us to be able to honor them and their patience with a paver ceremony and with the pavers the medical staff has donated. It’s a great honor to be receiving in that name,” said Runyon.

The pavers will be placed in the paver pathway located in front of the towers at Phoebe Main in downtown.

Doctor’s Day is recognized by Phoebe and they pick a local charity to donate to every year.

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