Most vulnerable residents get shots

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HANCOCK COUNTY — COVID-19 vaccinations are now available to those age 80 and older, and members of that population have started taking advantage of the opportunity in the county.

The state expanded vaccinations to the age group from health care workers and those in similar fields last Friday.

Officials opened up vaccinations to the group due to how vulnerable older people are to the novel coronavirus. Three new COVID-19 deaths were reported Tuesday, Jan. 12, in Hancock County, and all of the victims were at least 80 years old. 

Fifty of the county’s 91 deaths fall in that category.

Those eligible for the vaccine can register at ourshot.in.gov, by calling 211 or by contacting one of Indiana’s Area Agencies on Aging for help. A caregiver or loved one also may make an appointment on behalf of an eligible senior.

CICOA Aging & In-Home Solutions in Indianapolis is the agency on aging for the region Hancock County is in and can be reached at 317-254-5465 or 800-432-2422.

There is no cost to vaccination recipients, but insurance may be charged an administrative fee.

The Indiana State Department of Health reported that the vaccination registration website and call center experienced slowdowns after launching on Friday. The website is designed to put visitors into a holding queue when volume is high, according to a news release. That can lead to longer wait times or an error message, but visitors should be able to check back at a later time to access the system, the release continued.

The state health department reported Sunday that nearly 86,000 Hoosiers age 80 or older had scheduled appointments to receive COVID-19 vaccines.

Tim Livesay, director of pharmacy for Hancock Regional Hospital, said 3,248 COVID-19 vaccinations had been administered at the hospital as of Monday.

"We have started seeing the 80+ category scheduling and receiving the vaccine," he added.

The state health department reported Tuesday that 3,584 Hancock County residents have received their first dose of COVID-19 vaccine and that 441 have been fully vaccinated.

Statewide, 204,326 have received their first dose, and 31,432 have been fully vaccinated.

While the state doesn’t break down demographic vaccination data by county, the 80-and-older age group represented almost 9% of Indiana’s first doses and 0.3% of those fully vaccinated Tuesday.

Dr. Sandra Aspy, Hancock County health officer, said the county health department started as the county’s second COVID-19 vaccination site on Tuesday, Jan. 12. She didn’t know how many were signed up or how many fell into the eligible categories, but that she expected staff to have their hands full throughout the day.

"We do expect to be very, very busy," Aspy said.

Suzanne Derengowski, director of Hancock County Senior Services, said several people have booked rides with the agency’s free transportation service to COVID-19 vaccination appointments.

"We’ve talked to a fair number of people about rides," she said.

Hancock County Senior Services’ transportation line is 317-462-1103, and clients are asked to give at least 24 hours notice.

COVID-19 vaccinations for another vulnerable population — residents of long-term skilled nursing facilities — began in December in Indiana.

Greenfield Healthcare Center started COVID-19 vaccinations earlier this month. Golden LivingCenter-Brandywine reported earlier this month that it’s slated to begin today (Wednesday, Jan. 13). Woodland Terrace of New Palestine, which is not a skilled nursing facility, has reported it expects to receive more information as vaccinations expand to assisted-living facilities.

Traditions at Brookside in McCordsville, also an assisted-living facility, will have a COVID-19 vaccination clinic set up by Walgreens on Jan. 29, said Kristin Cherry, vice president of sales and marketing for Indianapolis-based Traditions Management.

The facility is not requiring resident vaccinations, but all 121 have chosen to get it, Cherry told the Daily Reporter in an email.

One of those residents is Teresa Murphy.

“As a retired nurse, I have no hesitation, and I believe the benefits outweigh any risks," Murphy said in an email. "I am so excited to get vaccinated!”

Cherry said Traditions at Brookside staff members started getting vaccinated as soon as they could. Employees are not required to get vaccinated but are highly encouraged, she added.

"We are filled with joy to start to see the light at the end of the tunnel," Cherry said. "We can see lots of fun, excitement and reuniting of family and friends back together!"

The other long-term care facilities in Hancock County did not return requests for comment, including Springhurst Health Campus, CrownPointe of Greenfield, Pleasant View Lodge and Sugar Creek Nursing and Rehabilitation.

The state plans to expand vaccinations to other age groups and those with underlying health conditions as more vaccine becomes available.

[sc:pullout-title pullout-title=”By the numbers” ][sc:pullout-text-begin]

COVID-19 data through early Tuesday, Jan. 12

Hancock County

  • 440 new tests administered (Nov. 25, 2020-Jan. 11, 2021)
  • 57 new cases (Jan. 11)
  • 18.6% seven-day (Dec. 30-Jan. 5) positivity rate all tests, 10.3% cumulative rate
  • 3 new deaths (Jan. 8-11)
  • 71,334 total tests administered
  • 35,903 total individuals tested
  • 6,104 total positive cases
  • 30.5% seven-day (Dec. 30-Jan. 5) positivity rate unique individuals, 17% cumulative rate
  • 91 total deaths

Indiana

  • 34,338 new tests administered (April 17, 2020-Jan. 11, 2021), 8,125 new individuals tested
  • 3,191 new cases (Dec. 22, 2020-Jan. 11, 2021)
  • 15.9% seven-day (Dec. 30-Jan. 5) positivity rate all tests, 10.9% cumulative rate
  • 88 new deaths (Dec. 31, 2020-Jan. 11, 2021)
  • 6,175,128 total tests administered
  • 2,770,157 total individuals tested
  • 570,477 total cases
  • 27.6% seven-day (Dec. 30-Jan. 5) positivity rate unique individuals, 20.6% cumulative rate
  • 8,731 total deaths
  • 373 total probable deaths 
  • 47.8% ICU beds in use – non-COVID
  • 25.9% ICU beds in use – COVID
  • 26.3% ICU beds available
  • 16.4% ventilators in use – non-COVID
  • 10.5% ventilators in use – COVID
  • 73.1% ventilators available
  • Hospital census: 2,515 total COVID-19 patients (2,214 confirmed, 301 under investigation)

Source: Indiana State Department of Health

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COVID-19 vaccinations through early Tuesday, Jan. 12

Hancock County

  • 3,584 first dose administered
  • 441 fully vaccinated

Indiana

  • 204,326 first dose administered
  • 31,432 full vaccinated

Source: Indiana State Department of Health

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