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Jimmy Carter 'looking forward' to receiving COVID-19 vaccine

The former president has said he is in full support of the vaccine efforts.

ATLANTA — Former President Jimmy Carter is "looking forward" to receiving the COVID-19 vaccine once it's available to him, according to a brief Carter Center statement issued Friday morning.

As the first doses of the vaccine begin circulating through Georgia, Carter's imprint of approval offers a measure of reassurance to those who might be hesitant about receiving the vaccine.

RELATED: US experts debate: Who should be next in line for vaccine?

He has earlier said that he and wife Rosalynn "are in full support of COVID-19 vaccine efforts and encourage everyone who is eligible to get immunized as soon as it becomes available in their communities."

The statement Friday morning indicated the former president would take the vaccine "when it is available to him." At 96 years old, Carter is in an age cohort considered among the most vulnerable to COVID-19, and Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp has indicated they will be among the first to be offered the vaccine.

The first doses are being administered to frontline healthcare workers and residents of long-term care facilities.

On Thursday, the commissioner of Georgia's Department of Public Health, Dr. Kathleen Toomey, received the vaccine in a show of public confidence. Gov. Kemp has also said he will be happy to take it when it's deemed the right time for him to do so.

A federal panel of experts is meeting this weekend to debate whether essential workers like grocery store clerks and workers at food processing plants, who have faced high rates of infection, should be given the vaccine ahead of those older than 65.

The decision, ultimately, will however be left up to states.