Some Indiana county health departments not expecting uptick in COVID-19 vaccine doses for weeks

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INDIANAPOLIS – Hoosiers 60 and older can now sign up for a COVID-19 vaccine appointment. That means an additional 432,000 people are eligible for a shot in the arm. Even with the expansion in eligibility, some county health departments explain they are not expecting an increase in their supply for weeks.

“It is frustrating to hear, ‘yes, you can expect an increase in doses in March’ to ‘no, you are not getting an increased number of doses in March,” said Stephenie Grimes, administrator at the Madison County Health Department.

Right now, Grimes said her department is receiving 2,000 doses a week. She believes they could administer roughly 3,000 doses or more if supply was not an issue. The Madison County Health Department just moved their vaccine clinic to a new site to accommodate more appointments. Now Grimes does not know if they will need the extra space in March.

“I know they are doing the best they can to, I know that. So, please understand I am not laying blame or pointing fingers,” said Grimes.

According to data provided by the United States Department of Health and Human Services, the amount of first dose vaccine allocations to Indiana has increased slightly over the past few weeks.

During the week of February 22, 128,450 first doses were allocated to Indiana. That is about a 20 percent increase from the week before. Keep in mind, Moderna doses did not arrive on time in Indiana the week before due to weather.

New data shows 138,980 first doses of vaccine will be allocated to Indiana the week of March 1. That includes doses from Pfizer and Moderna.

The executive director of the Wayne County Health Department, Christine Stinson, said they could administer 5,000 doses a week. They get 600 a week right now.

Stinson said her department receives a three week forecast to find out how many doses they should expect every week. Last week, she explained they were told the supply was going to stay at 600 doses per week.

“I think we are all frustrated, you know. I know with meetings with the state and other health departments, we are asking the same question. When can we get more doses?” she said.

The Wayne County Health Department bought a mobile unit to provide doses to Hoosiers outside of Richmond, Indiana. Stinson said they have not been able to use it yet because there are not enough doses to take from their clinic.

“We have been asking and asking for an additional hundred doses a week that I can take to elderly people that are in Hagerstown or senior living community,” she said.

On Tuesday, Johnson and Johnson announced it will have 20 million doses of vaccine available by the end of March. Health officials believe a third option on the market will be a game changer.

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