FORT WAYNE —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. The clinic opened Jan. 13.
Individuals 70 or older, healthcare workers and first responders are eligible for the vaccine. The cut-off age had been established at 80 years old, 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 the 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.
The Coliseum has set aside Expo IV hall, which is equipped to hold large numbers of people and can adhere to social distancing in a safe environment.
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 a shot everyone who wants one.”
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.
All 92 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.
As of Jan. 13, about 220,000 Hoosiers had received their first dose and more than 40,000 across the state had received their full two-shot regimen.
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 also 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 were 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.