COVID-19 vaccinations at the Fishers Health Dept. mass immunization site are well under way. The site opened Jan. 25 at 12520 E. 116th St. As of Feb. 6, 1,641 residents has received vaccinations at the clinic. Numbers for the week of Feb. 8 were not available as of press time.
The Fishers Health Dept. retrofitted a former Marsh building to fit the needs for the site.
“The state has been giving us timelines on how the vaccine was anticipated to ramp up, so all the local health departments made plans for ramping up services,” Fishers Health Dept. Public Health Director Monica Heltz said. “So, as the supply increased, we wanted to be ready.”
Previously, the Fishers Health Dept. administered vaccinations at its location on Technology Drive, which also served as the department’s school-related COVID-19 testing site.
“We carved out hours we weren’t doing testing to offer vaccines,” Heltz said.
During the two weeks the Fishers Health Dept. offered immunizations at the Technology Drive location, it administered 1,493 inoculations. Since then, vaccination operations have moved to the site on 116th Street.
The new site has space for 24 vaccination stations. The clinic on Technology Drive only had space for five stations and had up to four separate rooms for patients to social distance during their 15-minute post-inoculation waiting period.
“With COVID being a concern, making sure there was enough space between people was of critical importance,” Heltz said.
Heltz said the site won’t be able to operate at full capacity because the Fishers Health Dept. receives a limited number of vaccine doses from the state each week.
“We would love to see it fuller,” she said. “But that’s vaccine-supply dependent, so we are anxiously awaiting those.”
Heltz said the new site won’t be for long-term use beyond the purpose of administering COVID-19 vaccinations.
“The plan at this time is to maintain it as a vaccination site for however long it takes to get the vast majority of our population vaccinated,” Heltz said. “The faster the vaccine comes out and more allocations we get, the faster we get that done.”
The Fishers Health Dept. leases the building and plans to do so for several months in order to provide the COVID-19 vaccines.
“We are just doing the COVID vaccine, but we are looking at other options in this zone of waiting for more COVID vaccines to see if there are other purposes to use (the building) for in the meantime, whatever those may be,” Heltz said. “We hope vaccine supplies are going to increase, but we continue to be told that until there’s a larger supply at the federal level, we may be (in a) holding pattern.”
The Fishers Health Dept. receives a weekly allotment of 1,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine, even though it has the capacity to administer up to 6,000 weekly doses of the two-dose vaccine.
“We are asking for 6,000 doses weekly and we are allocated 1,000,” Heltz said. “Those thousand doses include second doses.”
The second dose of the Moderna vaccine can be administered as soon as 28 days after the first dose, so the Fishers Health Dept. began administering second doses Feb. 8.
So far, the Fishers Health Dept. site has not had a recipient suffer a serious allergic reaction.
“There are very low rates reported nationally, I think maybe 1 in a million,” Heltz said. “All health care providers are required to report any adverse reactions through the vaccine reporting system, and we have reported two minor adverse events. They were not serious at all, a little bit of tingling of the fingertips or lips.”
Fishers Health Dept. has epinephrine and Benadryl available on site in case a patient does experience an adverse reaction.
FISHERS HEALTH DEPT. VACCINE ELIGIBILITY
Currently, Hoosiers ages 65 and older are able to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Anyone within those age ranges is able to be vaccinated at the Fishers site and doesn’t have to be a Fishers resident, but Heltz said with such low allocations, the Fishers Health Dept. cannot serve as many patients as it would like.
“If people are having a hard time getting an appointment (at the Fishers site), we encourage them to look around,” Heltz said. “Our site is very popular with our residents because it’s so convenient, but anyone who is eligible for the vaccine right now should be able to choose from any site out there.”
The injection is free, but the Fishers Health Dept. encourages patients to provide their insurance information since vaccine administration fees are reimbursed by the health insurance companies.
“We are as excited as everybody else to be able to offer this lifesaving preventative measure,” Heltz said. “We can’t wait to receive more allocations so we can be able to offer this very quickly and efficiently to anybody who wants and needs it. We are definitely looking forward to what happens in the future with increased offerings.”
The vaccine clinic is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday and 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday. For more, visit fishers.in.us/1264/COVID-Vaccine.
The standby list and vaccines for homebound residents
While those eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine may have difficulty finding a location that can provide the vaccine in a quick manner due to the weekly allocations, Fishers Health Dept. Public Health Director Monica Heltz said there is a standby list for those who wish to sign up.
“Once you puncture the vial (for Moderna), it has to be used within six hours,” Heltz said. “S0, at the end of the night, if our last appointment ends on the fifth dose in the vial, we have another five doses we need to use or lose, and we are not going to lose any. We have not thrown a single dose away and refuse to do that. The unbreakable rule is don’t waste it.”
Those on the standby list must be able to arrive at the Fishers site within 30 minutes, and those calling will not leave messages if the call is unanswered, as the dose needs to be administered immediately.
“At the end of every day, we do have a handful of doses we need to make sure get into arms, and we usually have five to 10 people we can call every night (on the standby list),” Heltz said.
To sign up for the standby list, visit fishers.in.us/1264/COVID-Vaccine.
Fishers residents who are eligible for the vaccine and homebound are able to indicate so at the same website.
“People can indicate if they need a homebound vaccine and need us to come to them with the vaccine, and we have a program for that,” Heltz said. It’s only for Fishers residents.”