Hamilton County expecting first doses of COVID-19 vaccine this month


The earliest doses of a COVID-19 vaccine could arrive in Hamilton County within two weeks, but it’s unknown when it could become available to the general public.

When the vaccine becomes available in Hamilton County, it is planned to first be distributed to health care workers and people living in long-term care facilities. It would then go to public safety and other critical personnel before becoming available to the general public.

The distribution priorities in Hamilton County have been developed based on guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Indiana State Dept. of Health. Hamilton County Health Dept. Emergency Preparedness Coordinator Christian Walker said the priorities could change as the pandemic develops and as a new presidential administration begins in January 2021.

The HCHD will most likely be the coordinating agency to provide the vaccine for the general population in the county, Walker said.

“Our goal is to engage as many health care partners as possible to distribute the vaccine,” Walker said. “This would include primary care providers, pharmacies and other settings where they are authorized to administer the vaccine. This is going to be a monumental undertaking to get all of these partners onboard and ready to administer the vaccine.”

IU North in Carmel, St. Vincent Carmel Hospital and Riverview Health in Noblesville have been designated as the sites in Hamilton County to receive and distribute the first doses of COVID-19 vaccine to health care workers, including those that work in other hospitals or settings.

The Hamilton County hospitals won’t be among the first in the state to receive the vaccine. State officials said Nov. 11 that Community Hospital in Munster, Clark Memorial Health in Jeffersonville, Deaconess Hospital in Evansville, IU Health Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis and Parkview Health in Fort Wayne will receive Indiana’s initial doses.

However, Walker said he expects hospitals in Marion and surrounding counties to be “at or near the top of the list” to receive early doses of the vaccine.

State officials said that Pfizer’s vaccine will likely be the first available in Indiana, and they anticipate the company could request emergency-use authorization as early as the third week of November. A vaccine by Moderna could be available by the end of the year. None of the vaccine candidates have been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration at this point.

Whichever vaccine Hamilton County receives, Walker said residents should expect two doses, administered three to four weeks apart to for peak effectiveness.