Emory University will expand COVID-19 vaccine eligibility to all students, faculty and staff beginning March 25, according to an email to students and staff from Associate Vice President and Executive Director for COVID-19 Response and Recovery Amir St. Clair. The March 23 email included a link to a vaccination sign-up form offering appointments in March, April and May. 

The University’s message follows Gov. Brian Kemp’s March 23 announcement that all individuals aged 16 and older can receive a vaccine starting March 25. 

“We’re seeing a lot of demand still in metro Atlanta, but we have a lot of resources heading here,” Kemp said in an address to Georgia residents. “We’re starting to see senior populations … level out. We don’t want any doses sitting in freezers anywhere, so we’re opening it up on Thursday.”

Georgia will join a small cohort of states offering vaccines to all adults. Only West Virginia, Alaska and Mississippi have allowed all adults to get vaccinated as of March 23. Georgia will become the fifth state on that list, as Utah’s governor announced that the state plans to grant all adults aged 16 and older vaccine eligibility starting on March 24. 

Georgia’s eased eligibility restrictions follows a nationwide trend. Texas will expand vaccine eligibility to all adults on March 29 and Indiana on March 31, with more states following suit in April. 

“As we said before, we know when we take steps like this, it’s going to create a lot of demand, especially in the metro Atlanta area,” Kemp said. 

Georgia received 450,000 additional vaccines earlier this week and is expecting more Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson vaccines next week. However, Georgia has only administered 68% of available doses, 10% lower than the U.S. average as of March 23.

Only 19% of Georgians received at least one shot as of March 23, the lowest first-dose rate among all U.S. states. Approximately 11% of residents are fully vaccinated, only ahead of Utah, where just 9.7% of the population is fully vaccinated. 

“We appreciate the efforts of the state and governor to make all Georgians over the age 16 eligible for the vaccine,” St. Clair wrote in an email to the Wheel. “We encourage all members of the Emory community to get the vaccine once they are able.” 

Faculty and staff must sign into their Employee Health Portal and complete a COVID-19 vaccination consent form to register for a vaccine. They will then receive an email with a link to schedule their appointment, St. Clair wrote.

Students can register for a vaccine by completing a self-attestation form, consenting to the vaccine and scheduling an appointment through a system similar to the one used to schedule COVID-19 screening tests, found on the Emory Forward website.

Currently, individuals can only receive a vaccine through Emory at Emory Healthcare Clinic at Northlake Mall. Emory community members who need transportation assistance to the vaccination site can schedule a shuttle appointment by calling 404-727-7555 between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. Shuttle appointments must be scheduled at least 24 hours in advance, St. Clair noted. 

According to the Emory University COVID-19 Vaccine Scheduling form, the Northlake Mall vaccination site administers either the Pfizer vaccine or the Moderna vaccine.

Those who receive the Pfizer vaccine should schedule their second dose for 21 to 35 days after their first dose, while those receiving the Moderna vaccine should schedule their second dose for 28 to 42 days following their initial dose. Students can schedule their second dose after they receive their first dose.

According to the vaccine scheduling form, students, faculty and staff must bring their appointment confirmation email containing their QR code, an Emory Card or government-issued photo ID and a face mask to their appointment. 

To prepare for the vaccine, the form suggested that individuals wear clothes that allow easy access to their arms and eat or drink only before arriving at the vaccination site, as food and drinks are not allowed within the vaccination site.

The email also stated that individuals will be observed for an allergic reaction 15 to 30 minutes after receiving the vaccine.