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INDIANAPOLIS — Marion County and Indianapolis city leaders provided an update Wednesday afternoon on the COVID-19 pandemic response and lingering restrictions related to mask-wearing and social distancing as they approach the unofficial deadline of mandates next Monday, June 7th. 

The ask, fairly simple, get vaccinated – if you haven’t already. 

County leaders are making it easy for Hoosiers to get their shot at several walk-in sites this month, many aimed at the eligible 12–17-year-olds within the area as leaders hope to achieve a rate of 50% fully vaccinated by July 4 to fully reopen the county. 

“I think it’s very possible and I am hopeful,” Vice President for Data & Analytics at the Regenstrief Institute, Shaun Grannis said. “As I ran the numbers. If we want to get to 50%, in Marion County, by July 4th, that leaves about 30 days. That’s approximately 5,000 new people vaccinated every day.”

Make it 4,999, after 12-year-old Jackson Ball got his first dose tonight at a walk-in clinic at North Central High School along E 86th Street near N Keystone Avenue. 

Ball rolled up his sleeve, so his mask could come down.

“It has some benefits that you don’t have to go around with a mask everywhere – making sure you have it all the time,” Ball said. “The masks, they get annoying sometimes and just going without them feels a lot better than having them on.”

In the first of several mass vaccination sites planned for Marion County this month, dozens showed up to receive their first doses. 

“It’s gonna bring us closer and closer,” Dr. Virginia Caine said. “I just think it’s incredible. We have a vulnerable population that for the first time now has the ability to protect themselves.”

But according to Dr. Caine, who visited the clinic, still less than 25% of children and teens aged 12-17 have been vaccinated. Caine says many more youngsters, like Ball, will need to step up in order to reach their new goal. 

“This is the first of many for us of having sort of this sort of mass vaccination for our children between the ages of 12 to 17 at least three times in the month of June,” Dr. Caine said.

Before the end of June, Dr. Caine says five more mass vaccination clinics aimed at young people will take place, offices may begin requiring the vaccine for returning employees and correctional facilities too will make vaccines mandatory – along a massive grant in the works. 

“We’re looking at some different venues but hey, that one million dollars and many grants are gonna be huge to so many organizations that are connected to so many people especially in our underserved communities,” Dr. Caine said. 

Add it all up and Grannis gathers their new goal is ours to grab. 

“I think it’s exciting. The direction we’re heading. The fact that the number of new COVID cases continues to decline is encouraging. The fact that we are seeing the numbers of vaccinations increase is, that’s encouraging,” Grannis said. “I think it’s very possible and I am hopeful because to be frank, people getting COVID now are people who do not have the vaccine. I mean it’s as simple stated as that.”