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Boone County Health Department proposes fairgrounds as potential COVID-19 vaccination site

LEBANON, Ind. (WISH) — No one knows when or if a coronavirus vaccine will be available, but the first people to get the vaccine will be those at a higher risk of catching the virus. The Boone County Health Department has held mass vaccinations in the past and when a vaccine is approved, they have a plan in place to vaccinate the county at the county fairgrounds.

In the back hallways of the Boone County Health Department sit a series of industrial looking refrigerators that hold just about every available vaccine needed in the county. The one that is missing, because it has not been approved yet, is a COVID-19 vaccine. Once the vaccine is ready there is a plan in place to get residents in Boone County vaccinated.

“So what we are hoping to do is have a drive-thru clinic at whatever point that we find out the vaccine is going to drop we are going to be ready,” said Claire Haughton of the Boone County Health Department.

The proposed location for the drive-thru clinic is at the Boone County fairgrounds. The same building that would have been used as a field hospital at the height of the pandemic will be put into service as a vaccination hub.

Indiana counties will get the vaccine from the strategic national stockpile and the number of vaccines distributed to each county will depend on population. People that are most at risk will be the first vaccinated.

“So far we are waiting to hear from the CDC what the priority populations would be and so the priority populations would be the ones that would get vaccinated first and so those would be the people that are more susceptible to have severe complications from,” said Haughton.

Once the most vulnerable are vaccinated and depending on availability, the vaccine will be made available to everyone else. The county’s COVID-19 vaccination plan is coming right out of past mass vaccination playbooks. During the H1N1 outbreak the Boone County Health Department provided the vaccine to the entire county. More recently they have run a series of mock exercises with local police and volunteers to prepare for an event like this current pandemic.

“And so we bring in all of our community partners, we get volunteers to kind of act like the general public to give us real-world experience,” said Haughton.

Storing the vaccine is one piece of the plan that has not been fully addressed. A few of the potential vaccines require extreme temperatures to remain stable. Finding the proper storage equipment could slow down the distribution of the vaccine.