Georgia Medical Facility Loses Appeal After Vaccinating Teachers Over Others

The Medical Center of Elberton in Georgia reportedly lost its appeal to administer COVID-19 vaccines as the state's department of health issued a suspension.

The move followed the medical center's decision to vaccinate teachers who have to return to in-person learning, even though it went against state guidelines.

Brooke McDowell, the medical center's practice administrator, told local Georgia television station WSB-TV on Friday that they "plan to appeal."

However, the medical center's appeal was denied and a six-month suspension from new vaccines will be enforced until July 27, according to the news outlet.

The center can provide patients with the vaccine doses already in their inventory, but they will not receive any new doses until the suspension is lifted.

"Currently, the supply of COVID-19 vaccines is very limited," the Georgia Department of Health said in a Friday statement addressing the suspension.

Georgia Gov. Kemp Visits Chatham County Health
A nurse is shown above showing off a vial of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine on December 15, 2020 in Georgia. Photo by Sean Rayford/Getty Images/Getty

The health department added that Georgia follows the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) recommendation about who should be prioritized to receive the vaccine, which includes healthcare workers, residents, and staff of long-term care facilities.

The department added that they since expanded that recommendation to include vaccines for law enforcement, fire personnel, and people over the age of 65.

"All COVID-19 vaccine providers agree to vaccinate only individuals who fall into the designated priority groups," the health department said. "This is to ensure that the limited supply is going to those who are most at risk."

"Every Georgian deserves protection from COVID-19, and healthcare providers around the state are working to make that a reality," the department added. " Until more vaccine becomes available, it is critical that we protect the most vulnerable."

The health department's decision to suspend vaccines angered the medical center's staff, who argued the move punished the entire community.

"I'm pretty pissed about it because we are a tight-knit community," McDowell told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "Our community is relying on us to vaccinate them, and our state has decided, during a pandemic, to suspend our privileges."

Some teachers were also upset by the department's suspension.

"I think it's ridiculous," David Bennett, a high school drama teacher, told WSB-TV. "I believe in giving us the protection we need to do the jobs that we have to do each and every day."

Tracy Brown, another high school teacher, shared Bennett's concerns.

"I'm exposed to it pretty much all the time," Brown told the television station. "We're in a war zone with this thing, too."

The suspension came as Georgia reported over 746,000 coronavirus cases and 12,500 deaths over the course of the pandemic, the state's health department reported.

Georgia has administered nearly 730,000 doses of the vaccine, according to data from The Washington Post, covering 6.9 percent of the state's population.

Newsweek reached out to the Medical Center of Elberton and the Georgia Department of Health, but didn't hear back in time for publication.