Ready to go

Well-marked, distanced stations are ready for clients at a COVID-19 vaccination clinic at the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum.

Allen County has opened a third COVID-19 vaccination site, and as of Jan. 17 had administered 17,082 first doses of the two-part vaccine. Residents need to register online for the vaccine.

On Jan. 13, the Allen County Department of Health has begun administering COVID-19 vaccinations at a temporary clinic at the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum in Fort Wayne.

Individuals 70 or older and licensed and unlicensed healthcare workers and first responders are eligible for the vaccine. The cut-off date had been established at 80, but state health officials issued a statement the evening of Jan. 13 reducing the minimum age to 70. “Please continue to be patient, as vaccine supply remains limited,” the Division of Aging said in that statement. “Additional groups will be eligible as soon as vaccine supplies permit. The Division of Aging is a program of the Indiana Family & Social Services Administration.

All 92 Indiana counties have at least one vaccine site, typically run by the health department, but also available at some regional hospitals. Allen County also has vaccination sites at the Parkview Mirro Center for Research and Innovation in northeast Fort Wayne and at Lutheran Hospital in southwest Fort Wayne. Find information for surrounding counties at coronavirus.in.gov.

Anyone currently eligible for vaccination in Indiana can be vaccinated at any site listed on ourshot.in.gov if appointments are available. So area residents who cannot find an appointment at the Coliseum may check any of the other sites on the website.

The Coliseum has set aside Expo IV hall, which is is equipped to hold large numbers of people and at the same time adhere to social distancing in a safe environment.

“Currently we are being allocated 800 doses a week for our site,” Allen County Department of Health Director of Communications Megan Hubbart said in an email Jan. 17. “All doses were given at our site this past week. And our appointments have been filled up through the end of January. We are hopeful the state will continue to increase our dose amounts in the coming weeks.”

Dr. Matthew Sutter, Allen County health commissioner, explained during a press conference Jan. 12 that the need for the vaccine is far greater than the supply, and the more people who get the vaccination the sooner Indiana can begin to eradicate the disease. Sutter also extended local health restrictions that had been set to expire that night.

Anyone who has face-to-face interactions with patients or infectious material is also eligible. Strict guidelines will be followed before and during the vaccinations. Only persons who qualify and have set an appointment in advance will receive the vaccinations.

There is no charge for Coliseum parking for guests with vaccination appointments.

“We know the COVID-19 vaccine is tremendously effective at keeping people out of the hospital and preventing severe disease,” Sutter said. “We encourage every eligible person to make an appointment as soon as possible. Our goal is to get everyone who wants a shot, a shot!”

Schedules will vary depending on the vaccination site and the number of doses available. “But our site does provide daytime, evening and weekend hours to try to accommodate different schedules,” Hubbart said in an email.

The Allen County Department of Health is providing the Moderna vaccine, which requires two doses administered at least 28 days apart. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it typically takes a few weeks for the body to build immunity after the second vaccination. Individuals receiving the first vaccine will make their second appointment before leaving the Coliseum.

Sutter emphasized that continuing safe practices is essential now, and in the future, and even people who have been vaccinated against COVID-19 may still infect others and should continue to wear a mask.

To check eligibility to receive the vaccination, visit ourshot.in.gov, or call 211 between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. No walk-ins will be accepted. Family members can make appointments on behalf of eligible seniors.

A family member or caregiver can accompany a senior to the Coliseum to receive their vaccination. Anyone entering the vaccination site will be required to wear a mask and bring a photo ID, proof of age, or verification of current employment as a healthcare worker or first responder in Indiana. The vaccinations are free; however insurance may be charged an administrative fee.

As of Jan. 17, 296,799 Hoosiers had received their first dose and 60,834 across the state had received their full two-shot regimen. Allen County had administered 17,082 first doses. Only Marion County (38,502) and Hamilton County (20,664) had administered more first doses. In total, 455,000 more people are scheduled to be vaccinated by the end of January.

Hoosiers in their 60s will be up next for appointments, although it’s not clear when registrations will open for them.

Sutter renewed a list of restrictions due to the continued widespread transmission of COVID-19 in the county. “As we expect Allen County to again shift to the state’s red category this week, we believe ongoing limits are needed in spaces where spread is more likely,” Sutter said. The order mirrors limits on social gatherings and events laid out in Gov. Eric Holcomb’s latest order. It also continues capacity limits in restaurants, bars and fitness centers. The order is effective through Jan. 24, unless extended

The Allen County Health Department reported Jan. 17 that another 123 Allen County residents tested positive for COVID-19, bringing the total to 31,963 cases and 540 deaths.

The Indiana Department of Health announced Jan. 11 that a new strain of the virus that causes COVID-19 has been identified in Indiana. The strain is the same one identified in the United Kingdom last fall. It does not cause more severe infections, but it is much more easily spread.

“It’s common for viruses to mutate, and we are seeing that occur with COVID-19,” said State Health Commissioner Kris Box, M.D. “Because this strain of the virus can be transmitted more easily, it’s more important than ever that Hoosiers continue to wear their masks, practice social distancing, maintain good hygiene and get vaccinated when they are eligible.”

As of Jan. 17, 590,211 Indiana residents are known to have had the novel coronavirus. Of those, 8,936 are confirmed to have died.

COVID-19 testing is available at 10 sites in Allen County. Get those addresses and information for surrounding counties at coronavirus.in.gov.

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