Rural medical center suspended from vaccination program after inoculating school district staff

By Madeline Holcombe and Joe Sutton, CNN

(CNN) -- A rural Georgia medical center has been suspended from the state's Covid-19 vaccination program for six months after the facility administered vaccines to staff of the local school district.

The Georgia Department of Public Health was notified Tuesday that the Medical Center of Elberton had been vaccinating Elbert County School District staff members who were outside of the Phase 1A+ category of people eligible for the vaccine. After an investigation, the DPH confirmed the information and suspended the medical center, a release from the department said.

CNN has reached out to the Medical Center of Elberton for comment.

Elbert County School Superintendent Jon Jarvis said many of the district's more than 500 employees have been eager to receive the vaccine.

"It's hard to wear a mask when you're trying to teach students sounds," Superintendent Jarvis told CNN affiliate WXIA. "The vaccination for teachers, bus drivers, school nutrition workers ... they should be considered in the first group in my opinion."

Georgia is currently administering vaccines to people in the 1A+ group, which includes healthcare workers, long-term care facility staff and residents, adults over 65 and their caregivers as well as first responders, according to the Georgia DPH.

During the suspension, the rural medical center won't be eligible for Covid-19 vaccine shipments, though it will be allowed to use the remaining vaccine inventory for second-dose administration to patients "as applicable," DPH said.

"It is critical that DPH maintains the highest standards for vaccine accountability to ensure all federal and state requirements are adhered to by all parties, and vaccine is administered efficiently and equitably," the DPH said.

As variants threaten another surge and schools hope to safely send students back into the classroom full time, officials and residents have been calling for more vaccine doses. But health experts across the country say that the distribution of the vaccine is slow, and it will be months longer until all Americans can be inoculated.

The-CNN-Wire™ & © 2018 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.

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