The Allen County Department of Health has joined the statewide effort in vaccinating eligible people against COVID-19, opening a clinic at the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum.

On Jan. 8, the department announced that the clinic would open Jan. 13.

The vaccine is now available to individuals age 80 and older, as well as to licensed and unlicensed health care workers and first responders who have face-to-face interactions with patients or infectious material or who work in a public-facing position that requires in-person contact.

The state announced Jan. 8, the first day of signups for seniors, that high interest in COVID-19 vaccines has caused slowdowns to the state’s vaccine registration site and 211 system, but both systems are working.

At least one vaccine clinic will be located in each Indiana county. Vaccines are free, but insurance may be charged an administrative fee.

“Our department is excited to join the effort to get shots into arms and get one step closer to the end of this global pandemic,” Health Commissioner Dr. Matthew Sutter said in a statement. “We know the COVID-19 vaccine is tremendously effective at keeping people out of the hospital and preventing severe disease, so we encourage every eligible person to make an appointment as soon as possible.”

The Allen County health department's vaccination clinic is in Expo IV at the coliseum, 4000 Parnell Ave. Due to limited supply, vaccine is available by appointment only to those currently eligible as determined by the Indiana Department of Health. Appointments must be made in advance at ourshot.in.gov or by calling 211 daily 8 a.m.-8 p.m. No walk-ins will be accepted.

“The launch of this COVID-19 vaccine site is the culmination of countless hours of planning and preparation to provide a safe and efficient process for our community,” department administrator Mindy Waldron said in the county department's announcement. “We know many are anxious for the opportunity to be vaccinated and appreciate the continued patience as we work through each phase announced by the state to protect the most vulnerable among us.”

Family members may make appointments on behalf of eligible seniors. Those coming to the vaccination site should 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, as well as their health insurance card, to their appointment. 

The department provides 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 will be able to schedule their second appointment at the department’s clinic after receiving the first dose.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the vaccines under an Emergency Use Authorization, meaning the vaccines must be proved safe and effective in the same way all medications and devices must be. The vaccines have been found in trials to be 94 to 95% effective in preventing COVID-19 infections in participants. Side-effects are temporary and are generally mild, including fatigue, headache and sometimes fever.

People who have been vaccinated against COVID-19 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 of a positive case.

The best ways to protect yourself and others from COVID-19 are to:

• Keep at least 6 feet from people outside your household

• Wear a mask in public

• Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds

• Avoid touching your face with unwashed hands

• Avoid close contact with people who are sick

• Stay home when sick

• Cover your cough or sneeze

• Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces

Also on Jan. 8, the health department reported that another 269 Allen County residents tested positive for COVID-19 in the latest one-day reporting period. As of that date, Allen County had recorded 29,953 cases and 510 deaths.

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