The Allen County Department of Health plans to administer 800 shots a week, mostly to those age 80 and older when it opens its first COVID-19 vaccination clinic today at Fort Wayne's Memorial Coliseum.
County health officials, who also raised the status of the county's COVID-19 restrictions from orange to red beginning today, said the clinic represents the start of a widening assault on the novel coronavirus.
“It's an exciting day. It's really an historic day,” health department Commissioner Dr. Matthew Sutter said. “Our goal is to give everybody who wants a shot, a shot.”
The clinic at the Coliseum will use a vaccine developed by Moderna, health officials said. The vaccine is reported safe and more than 90% effective.
Because of limited supplies, people must register for an appointment, health officials said. No walk-ins will be permitted because of the need for careful documentation, they said.
Besides those 80 and up, licensed and unlicensed health care workers and first responders who have face-to-face interactions with the public or contact with infectious material are eligible to be vaccinated at the first Coliseum clinics.
Appointments should be scheduled at ourshot.in.gov or by calling 211 any day from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Family members can make appointments on behalf of eligible seniors and are urged to accompany them to the clinic. Wheelchairs will be available for those with mobility issues.
Area residents seem eager to get vaccinated, said Mindy Waldron, health department administrator.
She said appointment slots are full for the rest of this week and next week. The number of shots available, as well as the determination of who qualifies, is up to the state department of health, she said.
The Coliseum site is open to eligible people who live in Indiana counties and those who live in another state but work in Indiana, Waldron said.
Shots are free. But those being vaccinated are asked to bring a photo ID, a work ID if applicable and a health insurance card for billing of an administrative fee. Masks are required.
County health officials led members of the media on a tour of the spacious vaccination site in Expo IV at the Coliseum, 4000 Parnell Ave.
They said the site will be open Wednesday through Saturday with daytime, evening and weekend hours for at least the next two weeks for those with appointments.
The site includes registration and verification areas and 12 private vaccine administration booths created by curtains.
After administration of the vaccine, participants will be watched 10 minutes for adverse or allergic reactions, which have been reported at low levels.
Side effects tend to be mild and have included muscle soreness at the vaccination site and headache, fatigue, and sometimes fever, which resolve in a few days.
They urged participants to fully register online as it will cut administration and waiting time.
State health officials said the Moderna vaccine requires two doses given at least 28 days apart. Clinic participants will be given a card providing the date and time of their next scheduled dose, as well as verification of vaccination.
It typically takes a few weeks to build immunity after the second shot, federal health officials say. Sutter said there's little data on whether vaccinated individuals can pass the virus to others, so those who have been vaccinated are urged to continue to wear a face mask and quarantine if they are a close contact of a positive case.
The Coliseum site has the ability to provide 1,400 shots a day, Waldron said, but whether it will be able to do so depends on vaccine shipments. Sutter said they were expected to increase as manufacturing ramps up.
Sutter told The Journal Gazette he expects those age 70 and older to be able to schedule shots by the end of the month. The clinic is expected to remain in place several months.
“This is, in my opinion, our way out of this crisis,” Sutter said of vaccination. “It's a ray of hope, really.”