INDIANAPOLIS — Hospitals and health departments across Indiana have been working diligently to vaccinate as many Hoosiers 80 and older as possible this week in the fight against COVID-19.
In Indiana, the State Health Department says, people 80 and older have accounted for 52% of the state’s COVID-19 deaths. That’s why they’re among the first in line to be vaccinated.
As it stands, people 80 and older, those who work in healthcare, and first responders are able to be vaccinated. After that group, people 70 and older are next, followed by 60 and older. It’s undetermined, however, who’s after that or when the state moves into these different age groups.
But what is known is that the state wants at least one vaccination clinic in every county.
On Monday, in Hamilton County, vaccinations began at the 4H Fairgrounds in Noblesville. The Marion County Health Department is operating nine sites.
Tuesday, in Fishers, the health department administered its first COVID-19 vaccine at its temporary site, and a bigger "mass vaccination" facility will be ready by the end of the month at the former Marsh Supermarket building at 116th St. and Brooks School Road. Up to 1,000 vaccinations per-day will be possible there.
“You have to have qualified personnel to administer the vaccine and then a lot of additional really non-clinical volunteers to help manage traffic flow, to publicize the event, to be there to answer questions but you don’t have to necessarily be a clinician to answer some of those,” said Dr. Kara Cecil, University of Indianapolis Assistant Professor of Public Health.
Dr. Cecil explained what it takes to open a vaccination site so quickly and why it’s so important. “When it is more difficult to access that care, we know that people are less likely to do it,” she said. “But more than that, those who are most at risk are least likely to be able to access the care when it is difficult to do in terms of hours a day or distance to receive the care.”
Limited supplies of the COVID-19 vaccine also means every dose counts. Both the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines have to be used within six hours after a vial is opened. So what happens when those scheduled for shots don’t show up?
Most hospitals in our area say they are giving them to healthcare workers who are still waiting on their vaccination appointment. The Indiana State Health Department recommends having a standby list so no vaccine goes to waste.
If you’d like to get on a potential waiting list, Dr. Cecil suggests calling your local health department. “How quickly should I work to get the vaccine right? One thing I would mention beyond your own co-morbidities yourself is think about the people you interact with on a daily basis. Perhaps you’re a multi-generational household and so your mom and dad or your grandma and grandpa or aunt or uncle live with you and they fall in those high-risk categories. Well you would be of great service to the individual and those family members to go ahead and get on the list as soon as possible for you to get the vaccine.”
According to a spokesperson with the Indiana State Health Department: “Specific instructions were given to hospitals that state what to do if they have additional doses. If a hospital has extra doses in an open vial, they have been encouraged to have a standby list so that no vaccine goes to waste and administer the vaccine to the next people in line. We have asked hospitals to prioritize healthcare workers and hospital employees who may come into contact with people who have COVID-19 when creating their standby lists. These lists are created by the site administering vaccine, so the decisions about those lists are made locally, not at the state level.”
Vaccinations are free. You can make an appointment by calling 211 or doing it online at this website: