A new mass vaccination site at Memorial Coliseum is about 80% smaller than the clinic where thousands of Fort Wayne-area residents received COVID-19 immunizations earlier in the pandemic.
Nonetheless, the site represents the continuation of a big commitment by the Allen County Department of Health to increase the number of fully vaccinated residents.
The health department Wednesday allowed members of the media to tour the new clinic in the Coliseum's Appleseed Room. The new site will open at 9 a.m. Monday.
The 8,000-square-foot site will be about a fifth the size of the previous 40,000-square-foot location and will have about half the size of staff as the earlier clinic, health officials said.
Hours will be from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. The site will likely remain in operation until the end of the year.
The site will provide free vaccinations using the Pfizer vaccine, including first and second shots and booster shots for eligible residents, who do not need to live in Allen County.
Some eligible residents can receive third doses of the Pfizer vaccine, said Mindy Waldron, health department administrator.
Neither Moderna nor Johnson & Johnson vaccines will be offered, nor are those who received them eligible for Pfizer shots now, she said.
The health department asks those seeking a shot to make an appointment through ourshot.in.gov or by calling 211.
The Coliseum parking fee is waived for people seeking immunization. They should use the Expo Center entrance and will be directed to the clinic. Wheelchairs will be available.
Waldron said the new site came about after the larger site was closed June 17 and vaccinations were offered instead at the health department's medical annex at 4813 New Haven Ave.
At the time, health officials were facing declining demand and lower case numbers. But then the highly contagious delta variant of the virus became dominant, and cases rose again.
County health officials began planning to reopen a larger, centrally located clinic to offer an additional location for people seeking first and second shots or booster shots.
Booster shots were approved last month for certain people six months after receiving their second Pfizer dose.
Federal health officials say those 65 and older, those 18 and older living in long-term care settings or those 60 to 64 with underlying medical conditions that might put them at higher risk for severe COVID-19 should receive a booster.
Federal health authorities also say Pfizer recipients 18 to 49 with underlying medical conditions or at higher risk of exposure because of their job or institutional living may get a booster.
Waldron said the health department is also anticipating increased demand for shots because of pending federal emergency-use approvals of the Pfizer vaccine for children 5 to 11.
Those approvals could come after an Oct. 26 Food and Drug Administration committee meeting and a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention meeting shortly afterward.
“We know indications for younger children are coming, and we know there will be a bit of a (surge in demand) from that,” Waldron said. “We want to be there when those younger ages are approved.”
The new site should be able to provide up to 380 shots a day, she said, adding walk-ins likely will be able to be served a week or so after the opening.
The site layout is similar to that of the earlier Coliseum clinic – with six intake and registration stations and four curtained areas where shots will be given.
After being immunized, people will be directed to a separate area where they will wait in socially distanced chairs and be observed for side effects for 15 minutes.
Specially equipped areas for medical treatment are available should adverse reactions, which are rare, occur.
“We are happy to again provide vaccinations on a large scale to the whole community,” Waldron said. “Vaccinations are one of the most important tools we have to fight COVID-19.”
On Wednesday, Allen County reported 187 more cases and one death. Totals for the county now stand at 57,126 cases and 789 deaths.
Statewide, 2,273 cases were reported Wednesday, along with 32 new deaths. Indiana is closing in on a million cases (now at 991,460), and the death toll stands at 15,616, plus 524 deaths based on symptoms in patients without a positive test.