Various officials of Savannah and Chatham County are increasing their efforts to boost the number of local citizens taking the coronavirus vaccine to help stop the spread of COVID-19. During his weekly press conference on Jan. 26, Savannah Mayor Van Johnson repeated a call from Georgia’s Department of Public Health urging licensed medical professionals and others to volunteer to help with administering the COVID-19 vaccine. “An effective response relies on volunteers who are pre-credentialed,” Johnson said, referring to doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and other medical professionals who can legally administer the vaccine shots. “Nonmedical volunteers may be used in administrative roles such as registering individuals for vaccination.” Anyone interested in volunteering to help with the vaccination effort can visit dph.georgia.gov/georgia-responds and click on the “Register Now” box. In another initiative, three members of the Chatham County Commission made a public display of receiving their inoculations with hopes of inspiring eligible area residents to roll up their sleeves to take the vaccine as well. County Commission Chairman Chester Ellis and Commissioners Bobby Lockett and Tanya Milton announced on Jan. 25 that they had received COVID-19 vaccinations at the Chatham County Health Department. “Commissioners Lockett and Milton and I have received our first COVID vaccination, since we fell in the group of 65 and older. We did it as a commission to send out the message to all of those who are skeptical about taking the vaccine,” said Ellis. “I encourage all of you that when your time comes, to get with your health provider, get with the health department to make an appointment. I need to take care of you. You need to take care of me. We need to take care of one another. Please get your vaccination.” While local officials encourage the public to take the coronavirus vaccine, the DPH is making some adjustments to its COVID-19 testing services to accommodate the inoculation operations. According to Coastal Health District Health Director Dr. Lawton Davis, beginning Feb. 1 all CHD COVID-19 testing services will be shifted to two regional testing sites in Chatham and Glynn Counties to increase the capacity to administer the vaccine in health facilities of smaller counties. “We have to shift our priorities to better meet the demand for COVID-19 vaccine,” Davis said. The CHD COVID-19 testing services will continue at the Savannah Civic Center without appointments, but individuals must pre-register for tests beforehand. Visit covid19.gachd.org for more details.