For residents who qualify, the wait for the long-promised COVID-19 vaccine is almost over.

During Monday’s Wabash City Council meeting, Mayor Scott Long said Wabash County’s vaccination site would be open for business starting at 1 p.m. Thursday at the Wabash County Museum, 36 E. Market St.

Long said currently only police officers, fire department employees, EMS workers and anyone 80 years old and older will be eligible to sign up to receive a vaccination at the site for the time being.

However, Long said he was on a call with the Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH) that day and was told they were quickly going to transition to those 70 years old and above, and then 60 years old and above in the next few weeks. Additional groups, such as those based on underlying health conditions, will be added as the vaccine becomes available.

Long said they would be taking down a “call list” in case registrants do not show up for their appointment or cancel.

“If we can’t get somebody rescheduled we’ll be able to call people to come down to take the vaccine so that we’re not wasting doses,” said Long.

Long said they would be distributing the Moderna version of the vaccine, and the second shot would need to be administered four weeks after the first. Appointments for the second dose will be made at the clinic when the first dose is administered.

On Wednesday, Jan. 6, Gov. Eric J. Holcomb and the ISDH announced that Hoosiers age 80 and older will be eligible to register for a free COVID-19 vaccine beginning Friday, Jan. 8. At least one vaccine clinic will be located in each Indiana county.

As of last week, State Health Commissioner Kris Box, M.D., FACOG, said vaccine supplies are still limited. Indiana has received just over 350,000 doses of vaccine to date and is scheduled to receive about 78,000 vaccines per week at this time.

On Friday morning, the ISDH reported high interest in COVID-19 vaccines has caused slowdowns to the state’s vaccine registration site and 2-1-1 system, “but both systems are working.” Individuals who are having difficulty registering online can also call one of Indiana’s Area Agencies on Aging for help with registration.

Long said he had heard that 2-1-1 was telling people to contact their local health departments, which could be a problem.

“Therein lies an issue with minimal staff at our health department and they’re doing flu shot clinics right now. So, if they don’t have the internet, they can call City Hall,” said Long. “A lot of the counties are just now going live to give the vaccine and that’s all just local health departments.”

Individuals age 80 and older account for less than 4 percent of the state’s population but represent more than 19 percent of the hospitalizations and more than half of the COVID-19 deaths in the state, according to the ISDH.

The ISDH reported a total of 33,500 Hoosiers age 80 or older registered for free COVID-19 vaccines between 9 and 11:30 a.m. Friday, the first day of eligibility for this age group. Among those registering, 21,000 people scheduled appointments in the first 90 minutes after registration opened.

As of Tuesday, more than 204,000 Hoosiers had received their first dose of COVID-19 vaccine, and more than 31,000 have received both doses and are fully vaccinated. The ISDH has created a vaccine dashboard that will show the latest number of vaccines administered. The dashboard will be updated daily.

Local volunteers still being sought

On Thursday, Wabash County Emergency Management Agency (EMA) director Keith Walters said they were seeking volunteers for a soon-to-be-opened local vaccine clinic.

Walters said they needed health care workers, nurses, paramedics, EMTs, pharmacists, registration workers and administration workers.

Walters said those who were interested should contact Parkview Wabash president Marilyn Custer-Mitchell by email at Marilyn.Custer -Mitchell@parkview.com.

On Friday, Jan. 8, Custer-Mitchell said this was not a Parkview initiative, but instead, a county effort, involving her, Long, North Manchester Town Manager Adam Penrod and Walters.

Custer-Mitchell said they have been told we will be receiving 100 doses a week for the next two weeks.

Custer-Mitchell said people who are eligible for vaccinations is determined by the ISDH. She said those interested must register and schedule an appointment ahead of time. Walk-ins will not be accepted. They can schedule by visiting www.ourshot.in.gov or calling 2-1-1.

Custer-Mitchell said they will run the clinic the first two weeks of Jan. 10 and Jan 17 from 1 to 7 p.m. Thursdays and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays. She said the clinic is being held at the Wabash County Museum “due to the generosity of the Museum Board for allowing the use of the Porter Room.”

Custer-Mitchell said for the first two weeks they will need 16 volunteers each week, with volunteers working three-hour shifts each week on either Thursday or Saturday. Volunteers will be clinical, with the ability to administer the vaccine; or administrative, helping with registration and scheduling. Volunteers are being sought for the next two weeks for the following time frames: 1 to 4 p.m. and 4 to 7 p.m. Thursdays, and 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 1 to 4 p.m. Saturdays.

On Friday, Walters said a photo ID, proof of age or verification of current employment as a healthcare worker or first responder in Indiana will be required for those interested in registering to get their vaccinations at the clinic.

Walters said there is no cost to the individual, but insurance may be charged an administration fee. Individuals should bring a photo ID and an insurance card if they have one.

Walters said people who have been vaccinated may still be able to infect others, so even those who are vaccinated should continue wearing a mask and quarantining if they are a close contact with a positive case.

Parkview Health, MGH, Lutheran also continue vaccinations

As part of the state’s vaccination plan, Marion General Hospital (MGH) has been designated as a Phase 1-A vaccine distribution site and will be responsible for handling the vaccination of health care workers in Grant and Wabash counties.

On Thursday, Dec. 14, Lutheran Health community relations and strategic events director Joy Lohse said they would begin vaccinations the following morning at Dupont Hospital in Fort Wayne and Kosciusko Community Hospital in Warsaw.

On Tuesday, Dec. 29, Lohse said they had received their second shipment of the Pfizer vaccine and the first shipment of the Moderna vaccine.

At 12:09 p.m. Monday, Dec. 14, Parkview Health made history by administering the first COVID-19 vaccine in the state of Indiana. Parkview Health public relations manager Tami Brigle said Parkview anticipated receiving a shipment of about 2,000 doses of the vaccine that week and 8,000 doses the following week. As of Thursday, Dec. 17, Brigle said they had administered more than 650 vaccines to healthcare personnel from Monday through Wednesday of that week.

On Monday, Jan. 4, Parkview Health communications director Jessica Foor said they had administered 7,114 vaccinations as of Saturday, Jan. 2.

On Thursday, Jan. 7, Brigle said Parkview Health will continue to host a vaccine clinic now that the available pool of registrants has expanded beyond health care workers at the Parkview Mirro Center for Research & Innovation, 10622 Parkview Plaza Drive, Fort Wayne. Those eligible for vaccination must register for an appointment before arriving at the Parkview Mirro Center.

Brigle said family members will be allowed to make appointments on behalf of eligible seniors.

For more information, visit www.coronavirus.in.gov/ vaccine or https://ourshot.in.gov.

Rob Burgess, Wabash Plain Dealer editor, may be reached by email at rburgess@wabashplaindealer.com.