Health officials hosting soft opening for COVID vaccine for the elderly in South Bend

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SOUTH BEND (Network Indiana) — As part of the push by the state of Indiana to get as many elderly Hoosiers vaccinated for coronavirus as possible in the next week, a new vaccine clinic had a soft opening on Monday.

A full-scale opening will take place today at the Hedwig Memorial Center in South Bend. The clinic is run entirely by the St. Joseph County Health Department.

“It’ll take a few days to work out the kinks, but it’s a great vaccine and we’re thrilled to offer it to the community,” said Dr. Robert Einterz, the county’s health officer. “As more and more people get vaccinated and the message gets out there into the community, these individuals, more and more, will be ready to become vaccinated.”

But, they will only be able to vaccinate Hoosiers in northern Indiana if they have enough vaccine to do it. That seems to be a bit of an issue not just in St. Joseph and Elkhart Counties, but all over the country.

“We only received 1,600 doses,” Einterz added. “And we know there are probably 6,000 to 8,000 individuals (over 80-years-old) who might want the vaccine in the county.”

HHS Secretary Alex Azar had said back in December that he expects around 100 million Americans to be vaccinated by the end of February. Right now, the country is behind that schedule with only around seven million people in the U.S. having gotten either the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine.

In Indiana, only 130,000 Hoosiers have been vaccinated so far, even though CDC numbers show the state has received around 400,000 doses in the last month and a half since the Pfizer vaccine was approved by federal health experts.

“There are lots of different reasons for why it’s been as slow as it’s been,” said Dr. Daniel Nafziger, the chief medical officer at Goshen Hospital in Elkhart County. “A lot of it relates to a lack of funding and a lack of healthcare workers.”

Despite the slower than expected rollout, health experts are doubling down on their message that you should get the vaccine once it is available for you to do so.