2 in 5 county residents fully vaccinated

Bartholomew County has reached a milestone in the effort to quell the COVID-19 pandemic, with two out of five residents now fully vaccinated against a virus that has killed 156 people in the county, sent more than 1,500 to the emergency room and resulted in hundreds of hospitalizations since spring of 2020.

However, local health officials say more people still need to get vaccinated and have expressed concern in recent weeks that too many people will choose not to get immunized.

A total of 34,147 Bartholomew County residents were fully vaccinated as of Friday morning — about 40.7% of the county’s total population, according to the Indiana State Department of Health.

That is higher than Indiana’s rate of 37%, but still trails vaccination rates in 25 states, including Vermont, Massachusetts, and Connecticut, where at least 52.4% of residents are fully vaccinated, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Additionally, 56% of California’s more than 39 million residents have received at least one dose, compared to Bartholomew County’s rate of around 43.5%.

“I think we need to keep striving to get those vaccination rates even higher,” said Bartholomew County Health Officer Dr. Brian Niedbalski. “It’s great that we are higher than the state rate as a county, but we also need to realize Indiana is only 38th out of all states in total population that is vaccinated.”

The milestone comes just over five months since the initial doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine arrived in Bartholomew County and local health officials joined the largest mass vaccination effort in U.S. history.

It also comes as local health officials make a push to get as many people as possible vaccinated against COVID-19, as signs of vaccine hesitancy have continued to surface locally.

Last week, just 277 people turned out for a two-day mass vaccination clinic at the Bartholomew County 4-H Fairgrounds even though officials said they could have administered up to 1,000 doses over the course of the two days.

Last month, the Jackson County Health Department decided to move a mass vaccination clinic from Seymour High School to the health department’s office because demand was much lower than anticipated, said Lynn Montgomery, the department’s public health coordinator.

“We were prepared to administer 700 doses, but the response was not what we anticipated, and so we ended up doing less than 100,” Montgomery said.

But local health officials are continuing their efforts to get more shots into arms.

Last week, the Bartholomew County Health Department and Windrose Health Network announced seven mobile COVID-19 vaccination clinics across the county in the coming weeks — including in Elizabethtown, Hope, Taylorsville and Edinburgh.

Mobile vaccination sites will be set up in the parking lot of a local McDonald’s, a mobile home park, outside of public schools, the Bartholomew County 4-H Fairgrounds, among other locations.

Despite a drop-off in vaccinations over the past several weeks, local health officials are still hopeful that the county’s vaccination rate will pick up.

“I’m hoping that as more people see the safety and efficacy of the vaccines … our rates will increase,” Niedbalski said.

[sc:pullout-title pullout-title=”Upcoming clinics” ][sc:pullout-text-begin]

Upcoming Pfizer vaccination sites, which are open to anyone age 12 and up, include:

  • Tuesday: Taylorsville Elementary School parking lot, 9711 Walnut Street, 9a.m. to 2 p.m. Call Windrose at 317-680-9901 to register.
  • Thursday: Hauser Jr.-Sr. High School front parking lot, 9273 N. State Road 9 in Hope, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Call Windrose at 317-680-9901 to register.
  • June 17: McDonald’s parking lot, 11995 U.S. 31 North in Edinburgh, 9 a.m. to noon. Call Windrose at 317-680-9901 to register.
  • June 17: Driftside Home Community Clubhouse, 13540 U.S. 31 in Edinburgh, 1 to 4 p.m. Call Windrose at 317-680-9901 to register.
  • June 28: Bartholomew County 4-H Fairgrounds sheriff’s tent, 750 W. County Road 200S, 5:30 to 8 p.m. Call the Bartholomew County Health Department at 812-379-1555, option 1, to register.

Upcoming Johnson & Johnson clinics, which are available to anyone age 18 and up, include:

  • June 10: Mill St. Deli, 102 Mill Street in Elizabethtown, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Call the Bartholomew County Health Department at 812-379-1555, option 1, to register.
  • June 19: White Diamond Lavender Farms, 9415 E. County Road 800N in Hope, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Call the Bartholomew County Health Department at 812-379-1555, option 1, to register.

Registration preferred but walk-ins welcome.