Opinion on Vaccinations in Tift County

Dear Editor,

With the upcoming expansion of Georgia COVID-19 vaccinations to groups including K-12 teachers1, we think it is important to try and put our current vaccination numbers (as of 3/1/2021) in perspective for the public and specifically for Tift County.

Vaccine distribution across the State of Georgia is likely better than you realize. Georgia has fully vaccinated 775,265 individuals (7.3%) and has partially vaccinated another 498,061 (4.7%). In Tift County, the numbers are staggeringly better: 6,843 individuals (16.87%) have been fully vaccinated with another 2,938 (7.25%) partially vaccinated. These numbers sum to shots-in-the-arms of 1,273,326 (12%) and 9,781 (24.1%) individuals throughout the State of Georgia and Tift County respectively2.

Currently, all reported numbers are accounted for by either of the two mRNA vaccines approved for emergency use by the FDA, both yielding effectiveness values against COVID-19 greater than 94% following a two-dose regime, and greater than 52% (Pfizer-BioNTech) and 80% (Moderna) following only a single dose regime3,4. Recent serological testing out of the UK has shown that a single dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine in individuals previously infected with COVID-19 produces antibody levels significantly higher than that of individuals without previous infection who have been fully vaccinated5. With a population of 818,516 Georgians who have previously been infected with COVID-19, there is now an avenue for quicker immunity through a single dose regime, further increasing our vaccine availability for those who need it most6. Similarly, according to population estimates by the U.S. Census Bureau, roughly 25% of Georgians are below the age of 187, and are thus ineligible for most COVID-19 vaccines3,4*,8. (*Pfizer-BioNTech is authorized for those 16 years of age and older)

Following the FDA’s Saturday approval of the single-dose Johnson & Johnson viral vector vaccine, showing 66% effectiveness in clinical trials, we are yet another step closer to increased vaccine supply8. All these numbers beg a question: When can we get back to normal? If we analyze the velocity of vaccinations per 100k population per day across the State and in Tift County we come up with an expected increase in vaccinations per 100k individuals per day of 329.19 for the State of Georgia and 696.5 for Tift County. Following along its current linear path, without regard to the addition of the third vaccine, we could expect to hit a target of 50k vaccinations per 100k individuals in just 92.1 days statewide and 12.9 days in Tift County. In a perfect setting, that 50k per 100k vaccination rate would represent 25% of the population receiving both doses of the vaccine. These numbers will be further bolstered by the introduction of the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine, the emerging single-dose regime for those who have recovered from COVID-19, and other single-dosing scenarios borne of evolving CDC, FDA, and general scientific recommendations, and vaccine availability. Because of this, we can expect the number of Georgians who will be fully vaccinated in this projection to be at least higher than 25%.

It is important for local communities such as ours to continually reassess various measures and strategies used to combat the currently declining pandemic9. Whatever the answers may be in terms of public policy, it is crucial that every eligible man and woman in the State of Georgia continue to be vaccinated for the sake of our families, friends, and neighbors. If more people are aware that the beginning of the end of the pandemic could be in sight, perhaps more will be willing to be vaccinated. Both authors, working in the frontline medical community, have been fully vaccinated for over a month, and hope to encourage South Georgians to do the same.


Garret Pierzchajlo, B.Sc. Biology


Richard Pierzchajlo, M.D.



  1. Bluestein G, Journal-Constitution TA. Georgia teachers, school staffers, others to join vaccine pool in March. AJC. Accessed March 1, 2021. https://www.ajc.com/politics/georgia-teachers-school-staffers-others-to-join-vaccine-pool-in-march/KS326ZGMKJFHFFWP2OCOR472WM/
  2. Covid-19 Vaccine Dashboard. Georgia Department of Public Health. Accessed March 1, 2021. https://experience.arcgis.com/experience/3d8eea39f5c1443db1743a4cb8948a9c/
  3. Baden LR, El Sahly HM, Essink B, et al. Efficacy and Safety of the mRNA-1273 SARS-CoV-2 Vaccine. New England Journal of Medicine. 2021;384(5):403-416. doi:10.1056/NEJMoa2035389
  4. Polack FP, Thomas SJ, Kitchin N, et al. Safety and Efficacy of the BNT162b2 mRNA Covid-19 Vaccine. New England Journal of Medicine. 2020;383(27):2603-2615. doi:10.1056/NEJMoa2034577
  5. Manisty C, Otter AD, Treibel TA, et al. Antibody response to first BNT162b2 dose in previously SARS-CoV-2-infected individuals. The Lancet. 2021;0(0). doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(21)00501-8
  6. COVID-19 Status Report | Georgia Department of Public Health. Georgia Department of Public Health. Accessed March 1, 2021. https://dph.georgia.gov/covid-19-daily-status-report
  7. U.S. Census Bureau QuickFacts: Georgia. Accessed March 1, 2021. https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/GA
  8. FDA Issues Emergency Use Authorization for Third COVID-19 Vaccine. FDA. Published February 27, 2021. Accessed March 1, 2021. https://www.fda.gov/news-events/press-announcements/fda-issues-emergency-use-authorization-third-covid-19-vaccine
  9. CDC. COVID Data Tracker Weekly Review. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Published February 26, 2021. Accessed March 1, 2021. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/covid-data/covidview/index.html


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