With COVID-19 vaccinations becoming available for more people than frontline medical workers, Cass County’s center to get the vaccines has switched from Logansport Memorial Hospital to the Cass County Health Department [CCHD] satellite office.
The CCHD office at 1616 Smith St. in Logansport is only for those getting their first of the two shots.
Those who got their first shot of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine at Logansport Memorial Hospital [LMH] will receive the second shot, a booster, at the hospital.
The CCHD is also only administering the Moderna vaccine, the second vaccine approved in the United States for COVID-19, which it started receiving on Monday.
The vaccines are still given out only to selected groups in a tier system developed by the state.
But on Friday, Indiana increased the number of groups eligible to pre-register for the vaccine.
Now not only are frontline healthcare workers eligible, but so are people 80 years old and older and long-term care residents, according to the Indiana Department of Health’s webpage for vaccinations.
Other groups eligible to pre-register include licensed and unlicensed healthcare workers who work with patients or infectious material in any healthcare setting and first responders who have contact with the public.
First responders include firefighters, law enforcement, emergency medical services, reservists and volunteers.
“Eligible professionals should receive an invitation and registration link from their employer, professional association, or the State of Indiana,” the webpage states.
Those who are eligible for the vaccinations should go to ourshot.in.gov and click on the red bar at the top of the webpage, or they can call 211 if they don’t have internet access.
A press release from the CCHD and LMH states that coroners and funeral directors who have contact with infectious materials are also eligible.
Indiana is also moving away from the “hub” model of vaccine distribution, where LMH administered the vaccines to Cass, Carroll, Pulaski and White counties.
“The Indiana Department of Health has moved away from the hub approach as they rolled out vaccination efforts through various county health departments and other hospitals,” according to LMH officials.
“The Cass County Health Department and Logansport Memorial Hospital are working closely together and following the Indiana Department of Health’s vaccination plan and specific guidance to appropriately distribute the county’s allocated vaccine as quickly and efficiently as possible,” according to an email from the hospital.
LMH first began administering the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine on Dec. 18 to frontline medical workers in Cass, Carroll, Pulaski and White counties.
The state designated the hospital as the hub for distributing the vaccine to those four counties, and 193 people received vaccines that day.
They had to receive a booster shot about 21 days later for the vaccine to be in full effect.
The Moderna vaccine requires the second in 28 days.
Dr. Benjamin Anderson, a hospitalist at Logansport Memorial Hospital, said at the first vaccinations that if necessary, the second shot could be delayed two to three days, but it should be as close to the prescribed time as possible and not any earlier.
The second shot gives the immune system a boost
Initially, LMH received 975 does of the Pfizer vaccine — just one case — with more on the way.
Anderson said in December that the vaccines are different from traditional ones because they’re a Messenger Ribonucleic Acid [MRNA] type.
Vaccines such as for the flu or chickenpox use live, weakened, or dead viruses or parts of dead viruses.
Those vaccines need to be grown on human cells, and that takes time, he said.
An MRNA vaccine just needs a synthesized amino acid that will allow an immune system to recognize the proteins that a virus needs and combat the virus.
The technology is about 30 years old, but because the vaccines have to be kept at sub-arctic temperatures — -94 Fahrenheit for the Pfizer vaccine and slightly higher for Moderna — there hasn’t been a financial incentive.
The research for the SARS virus also put scientists a step ahead, and because of the pandemic, there are now reasons to take chances, he said.
The only drawback with the speed is that it’s not known how long the immunity will be effective, whether a year or a lifetime, although Moderna officials have said their vaccine will give immunity for at least a year.