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Danville’s Hendricks Regional Health gears up to distribute first batch of COVID-19 vaccines for frontline workers in Hendricks and Putnam counties ‘This is our first chance to play offense’

By Lindsay Doty

The team at Hendricks Regional Health in Danville has plans to receive and distribute the first batch of COVID-19 vaccines this week for designated health care workers from hospitals and long-term care facilities in Hendricks and Putnam counties.

HRH in Danville was chosen as one of 47 distribution sites in Indiana.

The first round of vaccines made by Pfizer will arrive and be distributed by the HRH team at the Hendricks County 4-H Fairgrounds in Danville starting this month.

The shots will be given to those who meet the criteria for Phase 1A set by the government. That list includes frontline health care workers from both HRH, IU Health West Hospital in Avon and hospital workers in Putnam County, along with long-term healthcare facilities, practicing physicians, home hospice care and cleaning staff on the frontlines.

“It’s not just nurses or doctors. It’s designated for anyone who comes into contact with patients or infectious material,” explains Dr. Michelle Fenoughty, HRH chief medical officer.

If all goes as planned, HRH will receive 975 vaccines in the first batch from Pfizer starting Dec. 17. She says additional shots (if approved) will arrive the next week from both Pfizer and biotech firm Moderna.

Both vaccines require two doses that are spaced more than 20 days apart.

“I’m excited and relieved. This is our first opportunity to play offense and reduce the number of people that spread the disease,” said Fenoughty who will be part of the group receiving the first batch.

For workers who meet the phase requirements, the state will release a sign-up link to register for a date and time to get the vaccine. Those employees will need an identification to validate their employment upon arrival at the fairgrounds.

The team at HRH in Danville volunteered to handle distribution. Hospital leaders say they have the ultra-cold storage required to store the vaccines and the pharmaceutical experience to handle distribution.

The vaccine must be thawed before it is put into syringes and is handled carefully with gloves.

The distribution team chose the fairgrounds in Danville due to its central location and open space for social distancing.

“We wanted a big space, and the fairgrounds allowed us to spread people out. We want to be able to vaccinate 100 people per hour,” said Fenoughty, who is confident in the effectiveness of the vaccine.

“I have comfort that all of the brilliant minds have come together to ensure the safety of this vaccine,” she said.

For those workers who meet the requirements to get the vaccine but have already had COVID-19, Fenoughty said they will still be encouraged to get the shots, but if they are still in the range of the 90-day immunity, they will not be at the top of the list.  

An FDA advisory committee approved Pfizer’s request for emergency-use authorization of its vaccine on Dec. 10 and plans to discuss Moderna’s request on Dec. 17.

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