About 24,000 more Allen County residents are now eligible to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
The Indiana State Department of Health on Tuesday lowered the age to receive vaccination to 55. According to federal census figures from 2019, that means 23,544 Allen County residents between 55 and 59 years old can now sign up to get the shots.
Statewide, an additional 446,000 more people are now eligible, said Megan Wade-Taxter, state health spokeswoman.
Those eligible can sign up at ourshot.in.gov or by calling 211, she said.
Allen County vaccination locations include the Allen County Health Department site at Memorial Coliseum; Parkview's Mirro Center for Research and Innovation; Lutheran Hospital; and Neighborhood Health Clinics sites at Calhoun Street and Paulding Road.
However, a check of those sites Tuesday found some had wait times of about two weeks.
Mindy Waldron, assistant administrator for the Allen County Department of Health, said the Coliseum site's capacity to provide shots is expected to be able to handle increased demand.
The site's supply of vaccine should be aided by plans to transition to the two-shot vaccine made by Pfizer beginning next week, she said. The Coliseum location now has the ultra-cold storage the vaccine requires.
“This is the last week we will provide Moderna (vaccine) to first-dose appointments, and we will finish out second-dose Moderna patients through March,” Waldron said in an email to The Journal Gazette.
Decisions about which sites will get the Johnson & Johnson vaccine and in what cases it will be used will made by the state health department, she said.
Wade-Taxter said three new mass vaccination sites – at the University of Notre Dame, Sellersburg and Indianapolis – will use the Johnson & Johnson one-dose vaccine federally approved for emergency use Sunday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Johnson & Jonson shots are expected to be coming to the Coliseum site, Waldron said.
“We will likely receive some J&J vaccine later in March, but how they will be administered has not yet been determined,” Waldron said.
According to the CDC, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is reported to be 85% effective in preventing severe illness and 100% effective in preventing hospitalization and death. It is 66% effective in preventing symptomatic illness and has performed well against some of the new variants of the virus.
Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are reported to be about 95% effective.
Health officials said newly eligible residents should not be overly concerned about which vaccine they receive.
“All available vaccines are extremely effective at preventing hospitalization and death from COVID-19, so we recommend everyone get a COVID-19 vaccine as soon as they become eligible,” said Dr. Matthew Sutter, Allen County health commissioner.
“Age remains the most important risk factor for severe COVID-19 disease, and people age 55 to 59 are at significant risk for hospitalization and death from COVID-19. It's important for people from this age group get vaccinated to protect themselves from this very infectious virus.”
The state's sign-up site provides information on which vaccine is being used at each site.
Nearly 33,000 Allen County residents are now fully vaccinated, according to the state health department's vaccine dashboard. More than 50,000 – 50,866 – have received a first dose of vaccine.
Statewide, 587,359 people are fully vaccinated and 1,014,651 first doses have been administered.
On Tuesday, 582 new cases of COVID-19 and 31 new deaths of Hoosiers were reported, for a total of 662,750 cases and 12,192 deaths.
An additional 431 residents died based on symptoms but without a positive COVID-19 test.
Allen County on Tuesday reported four more residents died and 37 tested positive for COVID-19, bringing the total to 35,989 cases and 637 deaths.
Prior registration and proof of age and Indiana residency is required at vaccination sites.
No walk-ins will be accepted.
Allen: 37 (4 deaths)
Huntington: 14 (1 death)
Kosciusko: 5 (1 death)
Whitley: 1 (death)
Sources: Indiana State Department of Health, Indiana Department of Health, DeKalb County Health Department
• To schedule a vaccination appointment, go online at ourshot.in.gov or call 211 if you do not have access to a computer or require assistance.