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As COVID-19 cases continue to spread throughout Delaware County, breaking 8,500 cases and 129 as of Wednesday, local healthcare officials are beginning to see a positive response to vaccines in their first week of distribution, with thousands getting their shots.
On the first day of vaccine clinic, Jan. 8, IU Health Ball Memorial Hospital distributed 463 doses, said Ball Memorial Public Relations Manager Courtney Schmoll.
While the hospital doesn’t have a detailed report of frontline workers versus community members receiving the vaccine, 251 were second doses and 212 were first doses, said Schmoll.
As of Thursday, 6,461 doses of vaccine had been administered at the hospital’s vaccine clinic, with 1,331 of those being second doses.
“We saw a good response from individuals aged 80 and older,” Schmoll said. “There was some initial frustration as the Indiana State Department of Health’s website and call center were very busy on the first day, so patients had to wait some that day to make an appointment.
“However, after the first day, patients were able to make appointments in a timely manner, and we have been seeing a large number of 80-year-old patients at our vaccine clinic,” she continued.
Nurse Annaliese Kinch administers the COVID-19 vaccine at IU Health Ball Memorial Hospital Friday, Jan. 15, 2021. (Photo: Jordan Kartholl / The Star Press)
Just as the hospital observed with its frontline workers in December, those in the 80 and older group have not experienced any adverse reactions from the vaccine at this time. Patients are monitored for 15 minutes after receiving the shot to make sure there are no other reactions besides typical soreness or short-term fatigue.
Delaware County Health Officer Donna Wilkins said the local health department’s first week of vaccines, which began on Jan. 12, have also gone well. The department received an initial 200 vaccines last week and is now scheduled to receive 300 every week to coincide with about 300 appointments every week.
“All patrons have been wearing masks as they were instructed and have brought an ID with their birth date,” Wilkins said. “The only issue that slows the process down a bit is that some people have not completely filled out their registration form on the internet.”
Both Ball Memorial and the Delaware County Health Department are set to receive a weekly supply of vaccines. While the number may differ at the health department every week, Schmoll said the hospital has an adequate supply to sustain 2,592 vaccines weekly.
“We currently have adequate supply of vaccine and the ISDH has reassured us that there will be enough vaccine for any appointment made at our vaccine clinic in the future,” Schmoll said.
New vaccine site added
While Ball Memorial Hospital and the Delaware County Health Department were initially the only two sites available for vaccines in the first week of distribution, Meridian Health Services has also been added to the list.
Starting Tuesday, Jan. 19, Meridian will begin providing vaccines in a drive-thru fashion at the Suzanne Gresham Center, 3620 W White River Blvd. Like all vaccine appointments, scheduling has to be done through ourshot.in.gov or by calling 211.
Lisa Suttle, regional vice president of clinical services at Meridian Health Services, told The Star Press on Friday that they received about 800 Moderna vaccines that morning. It is the first time the Meridian healthcare system received vaccines, and many team members have already been vaccinated at Ball Memorial.
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Hours for the vaccine drive-thru are 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Appointments are still required, and like other locations, a photo ID, insurance card and mask should be taken to the appointment.
“We’re trying to make it accessible as possible,” Suttle said.
When the vaccine recipient arrives, a nurse and registration person will approach the vehicle. Patients never have to leave their car, and once the vaccine is administered, they will asked to pull their car over for the 15-minute waiting period. They will then be registered for their second dose.
The following week, Suttle said three Meridian primary care locations will open up to provide the vaccine. Future locations will be determined by vaccine roll-out numbers and availability. For future distribution, Suttle said the Suzanne Gresham Center will receive about 800 vaccines weekly. Those vaccines have to remain at that location and cannot be switched between sites.
“We’re not sure if that number will change, you know, as we open more sites,” Suttle said. “That number may go down, depending on additional sites opening for us.”
At the sites, Suttle said staff will be taking all the safety precautions, wearing masks and goggles. They will also provide education on the Moderna vaccine and take time to answer any questions patients may have.
As patients receive their first dose and wait for their second, Suttle said it is important for vaccine recipients to still wear masks and practice social distancing. The 95% effectiveness rate of the vaccine does not kick in until after the second dose.
“It doesn’t provide 100% (protection) and even the 95% (protection) doesn’t happen for a while,” Suttle said. “So, it’s very important that people are still wearing their mask, social distancing and washing their hands.”
How to get vaccinated for COVID-19
Registered Nurse at IU Health Ball Memorial Hospital Kennedy Curry receives her second round of the COVID-19 vaccination Friday, Jan. 15, 2021. (Photo: Jordan Kartholl / The Star Press)
At the local health department, Wilkins said she had received a large number of calls last week, and not just from the 80 and older population. She also heard from those in their 60s and younger, who are not currently eligible.
Since then, appointments have opened up to frontline workers and those who are 70 and older.
Wilkins stressed that neither the hospital or the local health department can make appointments for individuals wanting a vaccine. An appointment through the state website or phone number is required, and patients cannot just walk in.
To make an appointment, Indiana residents who are 70 or older can do so at ourshot.in.gov by clicking the tab, “Find a vaccination site,” at the top of the page.
A map and list of counties will then display vaccination sites closest to the person, and then they can choose a site and register for a date and time. When scheduling an appointment, the website will ask questions to make sure individuals meet the eligibility criteria.
Those who have issues online or who would rather make an appointment by phone can call 211. The call center will be open 8 a.m.-8 p.m. daily, including weekends.
COVID-19 vaccines are free. Family members may make appointments for seniors, and the second appointment will be made during the first appointment. When attending appointments, those getting vaccinated need to provide a photo ID. Masks should be worn to appointments. Wilkins said patients need to take their insurance or Medicare cards. While the vaccine is free, this information is needed for the registration form.
For those arriving at Ball Memorial for their appointment, Schmoll said patients can park at the South Tower entrance to the hospital, located off Gilbert Street. The vaccine clinic is located inside the South Tower lobby area, and patients can enter using the South Tower entrance.
Patients are screened at the entrance for any COVID-19 symptoms before going to their appointment. They will then check in, receive their shot, be monitored for 15 minutes, check out and schedule their second dose appointment before leaving.
Where can I get tested for COVID-19?
If you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, including fever, body aches and chills, a dry cough, fatigue or loss of taste and smell, there are plenty of places within Delaware County to get tested for the virus.
Even without symptoms, free testing is available five days a week at Open Door Health Services’ 333 S. Madison St. location. Open Door offers free community tests for individuals with or without symptoms, made available through a partnership with the Delaware County Health Department.
The times for testing at this location are:
- Monday: 8 a.m.-6 p.m.
- Tuesday: 10 a.m.-6 p.m.
- Thursday: 7 a.m.-3 p.m.
- Friday: 7 a.m.-1 p.m.
- Saturday: 9 a.m.-noon
At this site, online pre-registration is required. Details and registration are available at opendoorhs.org/testing. For those driving, testing will take place within the vehicle.
Open Door also provides neighborhood-based testing at community partner sites. Partner sites currently include Avondale United Methodist Church, the Buley Center, Boys & Girls Clubs of Muncie, two Housing Authority communities, and Ball State University. Visit opendoorhs.org/testing for more information. Pre-registration at partner sites is not required.
In addition to Open Door, several other local health clinics offer COVID-19 tests, including Meridian Health Services, MedExpress Urgent Care and more. Some locations might test only those who exhibit symptoms of COVID-19 and costs might apply.
Meridian Health Services provides testing daily at 100 N. Tillotson Ave., by appointment only. An appointment can be made at meridianhs.org or by phone at 866-306-2647.
MedExpress Urgent Care is a drive-up COVID-19 testing site, 8 a.m.-8 p.m. at 1313 W. McGalliard Road. It remains a testing location while testing supplies remain available.
For a complete list of testing locations in Delaware County, visit the Delaware County Indiana Coronavirus Hub. Vaccines are not available at testing sites.
Individuals who get tested because they have symptoms should quarantine after their test until they receive their results. If the test is positive, they must continue to isolate.
Charlotte Stefanski is a reporter at The Star Press. Contact her at 765-283-5543, [email protected] or follow her on Twitter @CharStefanski.
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