ALBION — The first COVID-19 vaccines in Noble County began going into arms Monday morning.
They’ll be the first of many over the coming weeks and months as Noble County opened its clinic at the Noble County Public Library branch in Albion on Monday.
A group of about a dozen volunteers are joining Noble County Health Department staff to begin administering the first of a two-dose vaccine regimen to Noble County residents.
Noble County isn’t getting much vaccine to start — the county has been promised just 100 doses per week for the immediate future — with the first 100 doses arriving last Friday and more expected to show up this week, Noble County Health Officer Dr. Terry Gaff said Monday.
That allotment count could change in the future, but right now the county will be giving out as much vaccine as quickly as it can.
Monday represented the first day that vaccines were being given locally to the public. Indiana started vaccinating immediately upon receiving its first shipment of vaccines in mid-December, but those vaccines were being given only to front-line health care workers.
Last week, the state announced it was opening up registration to the second eligible group, targeting Hoosiers 80 years old and older.
The state has selected the oldest Hoosiers first in an effort to try to quickly reduce the number of hospitalizations and deaths. People 80-plus are more at risk to have serious complications or die from COVID-19, which vaulted them to the front of the line for vaccinations.
After the state makes progress on the 80-plus crowd, it will open registration to those in their 70s, then those in their 60s after making progress through the older crowd. It could take several weeks or months before the next stages and no concrete dates are set for when younger seniors will become eligible.
Noble County is receiving doses of the vaccine produced by Moderna. That vaccine can be kept at normal refrigeration as compared to a vaccine produced by Pfizer, which much be maintained at ultra-cold storage temperatures that Noble County doesn’t have the ability to maintain, Gaff said.
Volunteers and health department staff started showing up at the clinic, located on the lower-level and accessed at the rear of the Albion library, around 8 a.m. to get some quick training before the first appointments began at 9 a.m.
A team of 13 volunteers is being called every clinic day to bolster the health department staff, with volunteers filling roles including check-in and triage, registration, giving injections and doing observation and second-dose appointment scheduling.
“This is obviously a huge, huge, important thing we’re doing,” Brown told volunteers as they gathered in the morning.
Those seeking vaccines must have an appointment in order to receive a shot. Eligible residents can sign up at ourshot.in.gov or call 2-1-1 to get signed up. More than 86,000 Hoosiers 80-plus statewide had signed up as of Sunday evening.
Walk-ins will not be accepted at the vaccine clinic.
Those arriving for vaccines at the library will want to drive to the rear of the building and enter through Door 6 at their scheduled time.
Once inside, they’ll be asked if they have an appointment then be screened for COVID-19 symptoms and checked for a face covering. Those who don’t have masks or have single-layer gaiters will either be asked to retrieve a mask or may be provided a disposable one.
After that, a person will move ahead to registration and get signed in for their vaccine. After being registered, they’ll make their way down a hall to the shot clinic where they will receive the first of two required doses.
After getting the shot, patients will be observed for 15 minutes to look for any reactions or complications, which are exceedingly rare but can potentially be serious. If a person clears their 15-minute waiting period with no ill effects, they’ll be signed up for their second appointment, which generally occurs about three weeks after the first.
Once a person has received both doses they are considered fully vaccinated and should have strong immunity to the virus. Vaccines in use in the U.S. are noted to have efficacy of 95% and up.
Once a vial of vaccine liquid is punctured, it is only good for six hours before it must be thrown out. In an effort to ensure no vaccine is wasted, the clinic is keeping a waiting list of eligible people who may be called to rush to the clinic to receive a shot if there are leftover doses at the end of the day.
“We don’t want to have to throw away any doses,” Brown said.
More information about the vaccines, their efficacy and safety and for information about the state’s ongoing vaccine plan, visit coronavirus.in.gov/vaccine.