940 received first vaccine dose at mass clinic


JASPER — More than 900 people received their first COVID-19 vaccine dose on Saturday. And another clinic for the first dose is planned for this Saturday.

“We did pretty good,” Shawn Werner, administrative director of the Dubois County Health Department, said of Saturday’s clinic. “It ran better than I had expected and even hoped. We got people in and out pretty quickly.”

A total of 940 of the available 1,200 doses were dispensed at Saturday’s all-day clinic at Jasper Middle School. Staff covered 17 vaccine stations that were spread out, to keep people a safe distance from each other.

“We had nothing but good response from the public,” Werner said. “We did our best to accommodate different needs. We had a couple of wheelchairs available, and we worked to get everyone through as quick as possible.”

About 40 volunteers from other health care facilities and agencies worked at the clinic alongside the health department staff. Each vaccine station had a nurse who dispensed the vaccine and noted that on a person’s record, and a clerk who collected and registered information in the electronic system. Workers also disinfected the station between each appointment.

“I can't thank them enough for helping,” Werner said. “We could not have done this without them.”

Those who had appointments were anxious to get the vaccine. And that caused a minor complication at the beginning of the day.

“This population that we're dealing with right now, those in their 70s and 80s, they like to be at their appointments early. So a lot of them were coming in a half hour, 45 minutes early,” Werner said. “So right there in the beginning, we kind of got a little bit of a backlog.”

That meant people were waiting in line and trying to check in when they arrived, which was much earlier than their actual appointment time. To solve the matter, clinic workers had people wait in their vehicles until their appointment time.

“For future clinics like this, it's super important for people to come at their appointment time, exactly at their appointment time,” Werner said. “They are not going to get in any sooner than what their appointment time is. They need get there right at their appointment time to help the process run smoothly.”

The 260 doses not dispensed at Saturday’s clinic will be used at the weekly clinics held at the health department, Werner said.

“No dose will be wasted,” he said. “That’s a huge question; people think the doses will be wasted, and that’s not at all what’s happening. They will be used for eligible individuals who have appointments here.”

The COVID vaccine the health department has received is the Moderna vaccine, and it is given in two doses. Those who received the first shot on Saturday have been scheduled to get the second shot on Saturday, Feb. 20, at the middle school.

Those who are eligible to get the vaccine at this time are people who are 70 or older, those who are licensed health care workers or who work at a health care facility, or those who are medical first responders who respond to medical emergencies like accidents, and work directly with patients.

Those who are classified as a first responder at a utility do not qualify. Werner said the department has had utility workers trying get the vaccine.

“That's not a first responder,” he said. "So we had to turn those people away, unfortunately.”

The eligibility criteria is established by the Indiana State Department of Health in its multi-phase approach to dispensing the vaccine.

Werner is glad to see that so many people want to and are willing to get the vaccine.

“We are super grateful for all the public support,” he said, “to come out and get this vaccine.”

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