ICYMI: Brian Kemp Still Not Doing Enough to Increase Georgia’s Vaccination Rate

October 27, 2021

As Georgia begins to turn a corner on COVID-19 thanks to President Biden’s efforts to get more Americans vaccinated and curb the spread of the virus, Brian Kemp, Chris Carr, and Georgia Republicans are still jeopardizing the progress we’ve made. Between frivolous political and legal stunts and weak efforts to ramp up vaccinations, Georgia Republicans have chosen the side of the virus over Georgians’ health and our state’s economic recovery. 

Recent editorials in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and Savannah Morning News highlight Georgia Republicans’ COVID-19 mismanagement, calling out Kemp for his “communication failures” and urging him to “use his pulpit more effectively in the COVID-19 fight,” especially ahead of a potential winter surge.

Read more below:

Opinion: Strengthening Ga.’s COVID-fighting toolkit
Editorial Board / Atlanta Journal-Constitution / October 23, 2021

  • The year-end holidays are near, and that means people are more likely to gather indoors and in close quarters, increasing the risks yet again.
  • Put simply, vaccinations provide the greatest opportunity to disrupt the rhythm of a virus that has killed about 25,000 Georgians so far.
  • The preamble of Georgia’s Constitution urges work to “promote the interest and happiness of the citizen and of the family.”
  • Keeping our people alive and healthy fully aligns with that aspiration.
  • Getting there will require renewed and smart efforts by all of us, really, and especially by our state government.
  • It makes sense to ramp up efforts to quickly increase the number of fully vaccinated Georgians well beyond the current 49%.
  • Expanding communications campaigns aimed at the non-vaccinated would build on and magnify advice expressed in a recent public service announcement by Gov. Brian Kemp. Influencing public opinion here will require strong, sustained communication that uses trusted voices and common-sense messaging.
  • Gov. Kemp can also use his pulpit more effectively in the COVID-19 fight.
  • He can make clear, for example, that the state medical board and related entities are free to aggressively go after COVID-19 disinformation, such as the discredited idea that the drug ivermectin is an effective coronavirus treatment.
  • Georgians can only do the right things he’s urging if accurate, truthful information outweighs dangerous, anti-vaccine rhetoric.
  • Kemp should also signal to the University System of Georgia’s Board of Regents that they can allow campuses to make the right decisions locally about vaccination and mask requirements. The regents, who are appointed by governors, have banned those measures this academic year.

COVID pandemic exposed shortcomings in Georgia leaders’ public health communication strategies
Bill Dawers / Savannah Morning News / October 25, 2021

  • The handling of the pandemic by Gov. Brian Kemp, Georgia Department of Public Health and other state agencies will be debated during next year’s election season, but Georgians deserve sober policy analysis in advance of the polarized political wrangling.
  • State officials and the general public should especially focus on ways to improve communication about public health.
  • The communication problems seem to have had especially dire consequences in rural areas, some of which have become local news deserts, and among marginalized, underserved communities.
  • In their upcoming session, Georgia legislators should examine these failings, explore new strategies for disseminating information and increase funding for outreach. There are obviously many competent people working in public health, but they have been working in flawed systems with muddled messaging and a patchwork of regional health and hospital districts.
  • By late April…it became clear that Kemp and other leaders, including Kathleen Toomey at DPH, did not have a sound plan for communicating critical information about levels of risk, the evolving science and the data that the state was keeping.
  • More broadly, beginning in the early weeks of the pandemic, Kemp and other leaders erred by suggesting that Georgians had to make an either-or choice between the economy and public health.
  • During the next pandemic or the next wave of the current one, state leaders need to craft policies that reflect the nuances of this interdependence.


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