The Monroe County Health Department will phase out the use of the Monroe Convention Center as the county’s primary COVID-19 vaccination site in favor of IU’s new site in Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall by April, MCHD Administrator Penny Caudill said Friday at the City of Bloomington press conference.
Caudill said the convention center will remain open for those eligible to receive the first dose of vaccinations through March, and those who receive their first dose at the convention center will still receive their second dose at the same site.
IU’s site is scheduled to open March 29, IU-Bloomington COVID Response Unit Lead Kirk White said. It will stay open for an indefinite period as vaccinations continue through the year.
“We've been told that we will have the supply,” White said. “We will hopefully become a regional resource site for vaccinations.”
Caudill said more than 4,500 people have been vaccinated at the convention center thus far, but that IU’s facility will expand capacity.
As the COVID-19 vaccine becomes more widely available, the county is hoping to increase capacity threefold, Caudill said, and IU’s site can better handle that capacity.
White said the university believes it will have the capacity to vaccinate up to 2,000 people each day.
“We're not going to have that supply at the beginning,” White said. “But as we continue to show how well we can do for supplies, and the demand is there from the citizens in our region, we will try to meet it as best we can.”
Caudill said the county will soon receive a small number of doses of the newly approved Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which only requires one dose. Those vaccines will first be given to those who are homebound and unable to travel to vaccine sites, Caudill said.
“We will start with our homebound,” she said. “So we’ll begin with the doses that we have to vaccinate people who have been eligible, but have not been able to get into us.”
Mayor John Hamilton said Friday in the press conference the Bloomington Fire Department will assist in the effort to vaccinate homebound residents starting Monday.