Ahead of fall, doctors urge vaccines for those who have waited

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SPEEDWAY, Ind. — The first day of fall is September 22nd and with the autumnal equinox upon us and summer behind, so too are most of the events at the International Motor Speedway. 

The racetrack did however kick off their first-ever joint vaccine clinic & COVID-19 testing site in a parking lot across West 16th Street.

Medical Director for Infection Prevention & Antimicrobial Stewardship at Eskenazi Health Dr. Amy Beth Kressel says if you’ve been waiting to get vaccinated – it couldn’t be any easier than it is today.

“Definitely, it’s important to be tested if you’re having symptoms and if you haven’t been vaccinated yet, really there’s no reason to wait anymore,” Dr. Kressel said. “There is nothing in life that is 100% safe, but we know the vaccine is effective and certainly safer than taking your chances with COVID.”

No reason to wait, when there’s no line ahead of you to be tested or vaccinated across from Gate 2. National Guardsmen line the parking lot area in dozens of white tents, hoping you’ll roll up your sleeve for the shot. 

“We have a very safe vaccine,” Dr. Kressel said. “We have millions of people, over nine months ago now who have gotten this vaccine, yes there are some rare side effects… those side effects are very rare. People recover from them. This is nothing like getting actual, factual COVID… if you’re trying to get natural immunity by getting actual COVID, you’re playing Russian Roulette. It’s much more dangerous to do it that way than to get the vaccine.”

As the weather turns colder with the arrival of fall, doctors like Kressel are concerned, remembering the spikes of last year, knowing colder temps drive folks indoors where it’s easier to spread infection.

“We did see really sharp rises last year right around Thanksgiving and December. I have given up pretending that I can predict what will happen,” Dr. Kressel said. “We see children getting quarantined from school. We still see children going to hospitals with severe illness and we see children getting complications like the multi-inflammatory syndrome from COVID even after they recover, and they’ve been inside – at school – for weeks now.”

Dr. Kressel says she thinks given the high number of positive cases in central Indiana and the relatively low vaccination rate, Hoosiers can expect to see a repeat of last year’s spike – especially now as school children gear up for fall break and travel plans. 

“I think what happened when school opened, with very few precautions in most parts of the country is really concerning and potentially harbinger,” Dr. Kressel said. “Any time that you start traveling and mingling people from different geographic areas, I don’t know people’s Fall Break plans at this point, but there is a risk of cases increasing dramatically.”

Regardless of your plans this fall, Dr. Kressel says she’s seen enough to know, now’s still the perfect time to get your shot. 

Or at least, wear a mask.

“I would just tell people… that, you know, personally when I’m out and about, I am wearing a mask,” Dr. Kressel said. “I know it’s not mandated anymore. I will still wear a mask in any public indoor space. I would urge people to get the vaccine.”

The combined testing and vaccination site at IMS is open every day this week from noon to 8 p.m.

It’ll operate on a weekly basis from Tuesday through Saturday until October 30th.

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