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Community members worried about equal access to COVID-19 vaccine

People living on the east side of Indianapolis want to make sure everyone has access to the shot
COVID Shot
Posted at 5:27 PM, Feb 24, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-24 18:36:55-05

INDIANAPOLIS — As more Hoosiers continue to get vaccinated some people on the east side of Indianapolis say they feel like there needs to be more vaccine clinics and better access to those clinics.

Indianapolis resident Karen Whitehurst says her husband recently became eligible to get the COVID-19 vaccine and tried to sign up for an appointment.

“He said he couldn't find any appointments on the east side,” Whitehurst said. “I said well is it because there is a really high demand and they are all filled up or is it because there just aren't that many sites?”

WRTV looked into the location of vaccination clinics in central Indiana. According to the Indiana State Department of Health, there are 49 vaccine clinics in Marion County.

Six of those are on the east side, there are eight on the north side, and five downtown.

Locations on the east side include Community Hospital East and several Kroger locations.

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Whitehurst said she feels more locations are needed on the east side because people there are less likely to have reliable transportation.

“For us it is easy," Whitehurst said. "We hop in a car and go wherever we need to go, but we always try to be aware that we are not everybody and a lot of people still have transportation issues. Taking a bus takes time, so that could be half a day off work just to go get a vaccination twice. It could be taking an Uber, which costs money for those on a very tight fixed income."

She said she just wants to make sure those who need the vaccine can get it.

“I saw in Hamilton County that it is in an abandoned grocery store," Whitehurst said. "They took a former Marsh site and opened up a vaccine clinic there, well there are plenty of abandoned buildings on the east side, abandoned grocery stores."

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On Wednesday the state announced the “Homebound Hoosier Program.” That is designed to assist those who can’t make it to a vaccine clinic by having EMS providers bring the vaccine to people in their homes.

To register for that you can contact your local Area Agency on Aging at 800-986-3505.

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The Indiana State Department of Health released the following statement:

Vaccine supplies are limited, and currently hospitals, local health departments and some federally qualified health centers/community health centers are receiving vaccine from the state Department of Health. Those locations were chosen based on their ability to vaccinate large numbers of people. Locations of retail pharmacies participating in the federal retail partnership were determined by the retail outlets and federal government, so you would have to contact them for more information.

We continue to work to make vaccine available where it is needed most, which is one reason we are sending our mobile units to do vaccine clinics in 10 counties this week. We will be adding other clinics as we receive more vaccine.

When selecting vaccine clinic locations, we do consider where they are geographically located and are working with hospitals and local partners to ensure we can get vaccine into more communities. There are currently 49 vaccine clinics in Marion County, including Kroger, Meijer and Walmart pharmacies and many hospitals—most of which are on bus routes.

In addition, several pilot programs, led by FSSA and IDHS, are being developed to ensure homebound people can get the vaccine.