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State-Sponsored Vaccine Clinic Aims To Boost Elkhart County's Vaccination Rate

Gemma DiCarlo / WVPE Public Radio

Only about 25 percent of Elkhart County residents are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, a number the Indiana Department of Health is looking to boost. 


The Elkhart County Health Department partnered with the state department of health to open a mobile vaccination clinic at Goshen High School Thursday morning.


“Really, this is a community support effort and something that, across the state, we’re really working on,” said Shane Hatchett, chief of staff at the State Health Commissioner’s office. “We’re starting to see these efforts pay off and manifest themselves in lower case numbers, lower positivity rates and fewer hospitalizations and deaths.”


As of 9 a.m. Thursday, 275 people had already signed up for the clinic, which Elkhart County Health Officer Dr. Bethany Wait called “a success.”


“Even if we set all of this up and only one person got vaccinated, to me, that’s a success,” she said. “At this point in a time, we’re [going] one person at a time.”


Wait said the health department has made good headway in vaccinating the county’s Hispanic population over the last two months. However, she said turnout remains low among people age 20-40, especially Black men, and among the county’s Conservative Mennonite and Amish populations.


Based on the state’s vaccination data, Wait said she expects the county to reach 50 percent vaccination next month. She said that could mean dropping a level in the state’s color-coded COVID-19 advisory system.


“I think when we hit that number, we’re going to see a steep decline in the spread,” she said. “Hopefully, going to advisory level “blue” is going to happen around 50 percent, but it may take 70 [percent] to get there.”


The Goshen clinic is offering the one-shot Johnson and Johnson vaccine, as well as the Pfizer vaccine for anyone age twelve and over. Anyone under 18 will need a signed consent form to get the shot.


State and local health officials said they wanted to make the clinic as accessible as possible, especially for young people. Goshen Mayor Jeremy Stutsman also encouraged local businesses to give workers time off to get a shot.


“The health of our community is directly related to the health and sustainability of our economy,” he said. “You’re going to be money-ahead having your employees take a couple hours off – I would suggest paid, if it was me – than having them get sick in the future and not having that employee at work.”


The clinic will run from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Thursday to Saturday. You can make an appointment online or by calling 211, but walk-ins will also be accepted.


Contact Gemma atgdicarlo@wvpe.orgor follow her on Twitter at@gemma_dicarlo.


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Gemma DiCarlo came to Indiana by way of Athens, Georgia. She graduated from the University of Georgia in 2020 with a degree in Journalism and certificates in New Media and Sustainability. She has radio experience from her time as associate producer of Athens News Matters, the flagship public affairs program at WUGA-FM.
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