First batch of vaccines being distributed in Indiana next week

ST. JOSEPH COUNTY, Ind.--Over 55,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine will first be distributed amongst 5 pre-positioning sites in hospitals located in Indianapolis, Fort Wayne, Evansville, Munster, and Jeffersonville early next week.

These hospitals were chosen by the Indiana Health Department based on a specific criterion.

Office of public affairs director Jennifer O’Malley from the Indiana Department of Health said in an email quote:

“The CDC asked states to identify three to five hospitals to serve as prepositioning, or pilot, sites for vaccine administration. Indiana identified five hospitals that could meet specific criteria for storage and were able and willing to vaccinate not only their staff, but healthcare workers from outside their organization.”

After the initial rollout to those 5 cities, 45 other hospitals including St. Joseph Health System and Memorial Hospital, will get a smaller amount of doses a little later on in the week. First, they’ll go right to frontline pandemic workers like doctors, nurses and more. It’s something local leaders said is a sign of better times to come.

“Many of the hospital workers and first responders have literally been putting their lives on the line here to serve so many individuals within our community who are infected with COVID,” St. Joseph County Health Officer Dr. Bob Einterz said.

“I think it offers a lot of hope in some ways there’s a light at the end of the tunnel.”

St. Joseph County Health officers, didn’t believe that receiving a vaccine this quickly was a possibility.

“I think we’re at least several months of ahead of where I expected us to be, you know even probably, late summer, early fall i thought it would be next spring before we would have a vaccine available,” St. Joseph County Deputy Health Officer Dr. Mark Fox said.

“It’s just short of a miracle I think that we are getting a vaccine, it’s been a remarkably rapid course,” Dr. Einterz said.

While this is an encouraging first step, it’s important to remember that there’s still a long distribution process ahead.

St. Joseph Health System Chief Clinical Officer Genevieve Lankowicz said in a statement quote:

“We know it will take several months before a significant proportion of our population can be vaccinated. Until then, we must all remain vigilant, wear a mask, and practice proper distancing."

Developments for distributing on a community wide-level in the months ahead are in the works, and by the looks of things now, officials are already anticipating on needing community help in more ways than just masking up.

“We’re going to need volunteers, we’re going to need volunteers to help administered this vaccine, we’re going to try to set up vaccine dispensing capacity on a daily basis but in order to do that well, we are going to need a lot of volunteers,” Dr. Einterz said.

St. Joseph Health System is set to receive their first bulk of vaccines on December 17 and plan to distribute on December 18.

ABC57 did reach out to Memorial Hospital but we did not receive a response.

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