Hoosiers could be waiting weeks to get their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at the Assembly Hall site when the minimum age requirement in Indiana drops to 16 on Wednesday.
Students will be able to get a vaccine at any Indiana vaccination clinic, according to Indiana governor Eric Holcomb’s March 23 announcement. In Monroe County, Assembly Hall is joining the Convention Center and IU Health Bloomington hospital as state-run vaccine clinics. Krogers, Walmarts and Meijers across Indiana are federal vaccination sites. Residents can reserve appointments at state and federal sites through the state’s sign up page.
The Assembly Hall clinic was created to be easily accessible to IU students, as well as to provide another site to the general public. But those in the 16 years old to 40 years old age group won’t be able to take advantage of the new local site immediately.
Kathy Hewett, Monroe County Health Department public information officer, said Thursday the Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall vaccination clinic, which opens Monday, is completely booked for the first three weeks.
Hoosiers who are currently eligible — all those above age 40 — are already signing up for the first weeks of the Assembly Hall clinic, before college students are eligible. Hewett was not able to report specifically how far out other sites in Monroe County are booked, but said other sites will likely have similar filled appointments.
The earliest residents can sign up at Assembly Hall is around the week of April 19 to 23, the second-to-last week of classes for the spring semester. They may be able to sign up at other Indiana locations sooner, however Hewett said it can be difficult to schedule two doses at different locations.
The Assembly Hall clinic will administer the Pfizer vaccine, which has a 21-day waiting period between doses. If students want to get both doses at Assembly Hall, that 21-day waiting period would extend after final exam week, likely when students will begin going home.
Penny Caudill, Monroe County’s Health Administrator, said out-of-state students will be allowed to receive the vaccine at any Indiana location if they provide their Indiana address for attending school.
Megan Wade-Taxter, the Indiana State Health Department media relations coordinator, said people can wait up to 6-weeks after their first dose to receive the second if needed. However, that is not recommended. Wade-Taxter also said college students vaccinated in Indiana will be able to receive a second dose in other states by showing their vaccination card.
People can join the Monroe County surplus standby list, in case of any canceled appointments on a given day. The Assembly Hall clinic also has its own surplus wait list just for that location.
Indiana has already been using three mass vaccination clinics, and Hewett said she knows the state is planning more. Those will create more appointment slots for students, though it's unclear where they will be located. The mass vaccination clinics use the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, alleviating the issue of finding a second dose in a new location or a new state as a whole. The Indianapolis Motor Speedway is the closest mass vaccination clinic to Bloomington.
IU spokesperson Chuck Carney said while IU hoped to vaccinate students by the end of the semester, the school wasn’t sure if that would actually happen. Carney said students will have the opportunity to receive the vaccine before going home for the summer.
Carney also said IU will be sending out information to students within the week addressing how to get the vaccine and how to handle potential travel at the end of the semester.