Indiana Daily Student

IU Health targets December 21 to begin giving COVID-19 vaccine to healthcare workers

<p>Brian Shockley, with IU Heath, speaks Friday over Zoom during a weekly COVID-19 update meeting. </p>

Brian Shockley, with IU Heath, speaks Friday over Zoom during a weekly COVID-19 update meeting.

IU Health, Monroe County and Bloomington officials said in a press conference Friday they plan to begin giving out the COVID-19 vaccine to frontline health care workers on Dec.21. 

The IU Health Bloomington and IU Health Paoli hospitals will serve as vaccination centers. Brian Shockney of IU Health said they received the freezers for the vaccines this week. 

In a health department meeting last week, Penny Caudill, the Monroe County Health Administrator, said the county would be receiving 5,000 doses of the vaccines to start with. She and Shockney both said that future orders of the vaccine will be determined by how many vaccines the county is actually giving out. They said communities that are not giving out the vaccine at a high rate will not get more doses quickly. 

Shockney said the state is expected to receive “hundreds of thousands” of doses for the various different vaccines — assuming approvals and production plans all go as anticipated. 

Shockney also said they will have enough vaccines to handle all the front line health care workers in the five-county area — Monroe, Brown, Greene, Lawrence and Owen Counties — IU Health Bloomington and Paoli are responsible for. 

“We’re not concerned about the number of vaccines we’ll get,” Shockney said. 

Shockney said he anticipates all of the first tier front line workers who choose to get the vaccine will have it by mid-January. After that, it can be expanded out further to the community. Caudill is working with Bloomington Mayor John Hamilton on distribution plans — finding spaces to use for clinics in the future when more populations are able to get the vaccine. 

They are also working to help get the vaccine to “vulnerable populations” and those who are unable to get transportation to vaccination facilities. 

“Any way we can help, we’re happy to do,” Hamilton said. 

Vaccinations are going to be appointment based, through the same system people can sign up for COVID-19 tests. Residents can also sign up for Monroe County Alerts for information on future clinics and distribution of the vaccine. 

Meanwhile the state of Indiana continues to set records for daily COVID-19 cases, deaths and hospitalizations. Though Shockney is not concerned about hospitals being overwhelmed, with more than 3,000 total COVID-19 patients in the state right now. 

“All hospitals in our state remain open and safe to the communities,” Shockney said. 

And today, the state reported 7,299 new COVID-19 cases. That is the sixth highest total since the start of the pandemic. 

“These are very, very challenging times, records continue to be set,” Hamilton said. “We have very sick people. We have serious community spread.” 

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