Georgia health workers seize town's COVID-19 vaccines to stop vaccination of teachers

Georgia’s Department of Public Health raided a medical clinic and took away its COVID-19 vaccines after they found out the clinic was giving the vaccine to teachers. 

The Medical Center of Elberton will not receive any shipments of the vaccine until July 29 for breaking protocol and vaccinating teachers. 

DPH took the action after learning the provider had been vaccinating individuals in the Elbert County School District who were outside of the current Phase 1A+ eligible population,” the department said in a statement on Monday. 

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Health officials took 470 shots of the vaccine and only left enough to give the second shot to those who already had their first shot with the clinic. 

However, the medical center only moved on to vaccinating teachers because it had already vaccinated all the health care professionals who wanted the vaccine in the community, according to employees.

"Everything that we had tried to do up until now to vaccinate our county was just laid to waste," Jonathan Poon, a doctor at the clinic, told NBC News.

Poon said the clinic believed teachers were allowed to be vaccinated in the current phase the state is in since all others were vaccinated. 

"We felt, you know, with the state’s guidance, that teachers were a part of that group," he said. "So as soon as we were able to move to vaccinate the essential workers, that’s what we did."

"Going outside of the phase in almost a deliberate manner was something that we could not ignore," Chris Rustin of the Department of Public Health told NBC News. "And we needed to make sure that others that are vaccinating understand that we have such limitations on our vaccine supply that we have to follow a plan that's been clearly communicated."

The clinic is looking to repeal the state’s decision after finding out other facilities have given vaccines to those who are not listed in the current phase, Fox 5 Atlanta reported.

States all around the country are having trouble with their coronavirus vaccine guidelines, which is part of the reason many officials believe the vaccine rollout was slower than expected.