St. Joseph County digging into reserves to keep vaccine clinics open
ST. JOSEPH COUNTY, Ind. - The St. Joseph County Health Department said Thursday it had not yet received the week's shipment of Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine doses. The State Health department indicated the winter storm sweeping the nation was to blame. Initially, county health officials were looking at closing vaccine clinics until the shipment arrived, but after working with its vaccine partners to take from the reserve supply of vaccine doses to keep the clinics open through the arrival of that shipment which is now expected on Monday.
"More than 43,000 vaccine appointments were impacted by the weather this week," Dr. Lindsey Weaver, the chief Medical Officer for the Indiana State Health Department, said. "More than 80 clinics around the state closed due to inclement weather. To further complicate matters this week, we have experienced delays in vaccine shipments due to the bad weather."
St. Joseph County Health Officer Dr. Bob Einterz said the county felt the effects of that shipment delay directly.
"The vaccine that we do receive here is distributed by the federal government to the state government and from the state government to us," Einterz said. "Unfortunately, we were unable to receive our supply. That we were supposed to get last Friday. We then were expecting to get it earlier this week and, in fact, have not yet received our vaccination supply."
Einterz said initially, the department was looking into closing local vaccine clinics.
"We were very concerned that we would have to cancel clinics, several clinics, in fact," Einterz said. "As of Wednesday, we were completely out of vaccines here at the Department of Health, but fortunately, St. Joe Regional Medical Center stepped in, and they had a few extra doses they were able to lend to us. So, we had the clinic on Wednesday. Today, HealthLinc stepped up, and they lended some doses to us as well. Then, Maple City Health Center lent, as well, some doses to us. So, we're going to stay open tomorrow, and we expect to stay open again on Monday as long as we get some supply from State on Monday morning."
Einterz said digging into the reserves was enough to keep clinics open until the new shipment arrives on Monday, but said he is worried about what could happen if the shipment does not arrive by then.
"I'm not sure how much more is out there if the vaccine doesn't come on Monday, but we're hopeful," Einterz said.
Those who were able to get their vaccine doses this week said they are relieved to have finally done so.
"I made my appointment about a month ago," said Don Tonk who got his first dose on Thursday. "I had faith that I would have no difficulty, and I didn't. It was fabulous."
Cheryl Cyman also got her first dose on Thursday. She said she's thrilled to have gotten through step one.
"It makes me very fortunate," Cyman said. "I'm done, but in three weeks, there's one more."
County health officials said they hope the new shipment arrives on Monday so they can keep clinics open.