Monroe County health officials introduced a new outreach clinic during the City of Bloomington’s weekly COVID-19 conference Friday. Officials also discussed the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration’s reintroduction of the Johnson & Johnson one-dose vaccine.
Monroe County Health Department Administrator Penny Caudill said the department will partner with community organizations to reach out to the county’s Hispanic and Latino residents in hopes of increasing vaccination rates in Spanish-speaking communities.
The county will sponsor a vaccination clinic driven toward Spanish-speaking communities May 10 at the Monroe Convention Center. The site will administer the Moderna vaccine.
“There are volunteers and staff who are going door-to-door this weekend to encourage people to come to that clinic to sign up so we can be prepared,” Caudill said.
Johnson & Johnson is back
The CDC and FDA recommended the use of the Johnson & Johnson one-dose vaccine April 23 after they previously announced a pause due to an extremely rare, but serious blood clotting issue April 13, according to the CDC website.
Sites in Indiana have started giving the Johnson & Johnson vaccine again after the announcement, IU Health South Central Region President Brian Shockney said.
“The pause with the J&J vaccine was just showing that we do take safety seriously around the vaccines and around the follow up with these vaccines,” Shockey said.
Caudill told Monroe County residents they should feel comfortable getting the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, but should watch for any adverse reactions in the days after the shot beyond the normal flu-like side effects.
“The chance of this occurring is extremely remote,” Caudill said. “Less than one in a million.”
Shockney said Monroe County residents should get any of three available vaccines that have been approved by the FDA.
“The best COVID-19 vaccine is the one you can get,” Shockney said.
Where Monroe County stands
More than 35% of Monroe County’s population is considered fully vaccinated and 47.3% have received their first dose, according to the Indiana vaccination website. The state’s fully vaccinated rate is 34.7%, with 42.9% having received the first dose of one of the vaccines.
While health officials are encouraging Monroe County residents to schedule their vaccine ahead of time, many sites in the county and throughout the state are offering walk-in vaccinations.
“If you have your appointment, convince somebody to go with you,” Caudill said. “Take them with you. Make it easy.”
The county’s health department will consider a variety of different factors — such as positivity rate and cases per hundred thousand — when deciding how to adjust the county’s mandates and guidance, Caudill said.
“The vaccine is what's going to get us to the finish line on this,” Caudill said.
IU has vaccination slots open
IU has 3,100 vaccination appointments available for next week, IU-Bloomington COVID Response Unit Lead Kirk White said.
IU’s COVID-19 vaccination site is located at Simon-Skjodt Assembly Hall. It serves as the primary vaccination site for Monroe County.
White said the university plans to continue to offer vaccinations throughout the summer.