Although the Fishers Health Dept. doesn’t administer flu vaccines, Public Health Director Monica Heltz said the department strongly recommends vaccinations for everyone 6 months and older.
“Especially in light of COVID, because there are very serious effects of what could happen if you contract both (flu and COVID-19) at the same time,” she said. “We don’t yet have the capability to deliver a flu vaccine. We are working on that, so I would ask people to stay tuned for any announcements on that. We are in the process of building an immunization clinic.”
Heltz said the Fishers Health Dept. doesn’t offer a flu vaccine, but several other sites in the community do. On a positive note, Heltz said the health department expects a light flu season because of social distancing practices for COVID-19.
“The mask wearing and hand washing and the rest of those measures work for the flu as well, but it’s still very important to continue to get vaccinated for flu to protect against what you can protect against,” she said.
The Fishers Health Dept. has offered free COVID-19 testing since April. However. Fishers residents and nonresidents can receive a free test, which previously was only offered to Fishers residents. The Indiana State Dept. of Health is reallocating resources and funds away from Optum sites. The state previously subcontracted with Optum to provide testing sites, but now it is pursuing local health departments to create testing sites.
“This provided the funding and a good opportunity for us to continue to capture residents that are maybe working in Fishers or fall into one of the pockets of Fishers that isn’t technically under city jurisdiction as a city resident, and this allows us to better cover our community as a whole without utilizing city funding,” Heltz said.
The Fishers Health Dept. communicates with Hamilton Southeastern Schools to ensure the department’s recommendations and guidelines are being followed. A significant part of working with the schools includes efficient contact tracing.
“We have a team of contact tracers hired to do all the contact tracing for Fishers, basically, and they work closely every day with the schools to follow up any cases identified through the schools,” Heltz said.
The contact tracing team was established in April.
The Fishers Health Dept. updates its online COVID-19 dashboard daily to provide a window for residents to see how COVID-19 affects the city. As of press time, in the past 14 days, 201 new cases and no new deaths were reported. In total since its creation, the Fishers Health Dept. has reported 2,237 cases and 36 deaths. The city’s case incidence rate was 22.34 per 100,000 residents.
Heltz said the health department is again starting to see an increase in cases in long-term care facilities.
“It is really important that we try to protect our most vulnerable residents from both flu and COVID,” she said.
For more, visit fishers.in.us/1154/Fishers-Health-Department.
Rumors of another lockdown
Residents have expressed concern about another statewide lockdown. Prior to the March lockdown the City of Fishers issued a travel advisory to discourage unnecessary travel within the city to slow the spread of COVID-19. If similar directives are reinstated at some point, Fishers Health Dept. Communications director Ashley Elrod said they would come from her department, not the city.
“The travel advisory and those decisions we made early on were because that was the extent of the policies we could do because we did not have a health department,” Elrod said. “Those directions, if it was decided to make any restrictions, those would come through as public health orders through the health department.”
Elrod said health experts have a better understanding of the virus than they did in the spring.
“I believe from that perspective that our response would be different than what we may have experienced then in terms of asking people to change behaviors in different ways than what we did in March,” Elrod said.
Public Health Director Monica Heltz said COVID-19 primarily spreads in private residences and at small parties or small gatherings.
“It is important that people continue to stay vigilant. And the measures that are taken out in public, they took those measures into their small gatherings as well,” she said. “It’s small gatherings of friends and a few workplace exposures. People let their guard down in their own home and around neighbors or friends.”