By Keaundrey Clark
A COVID-19 vaccination center will open in Gary soon. With the one-year anniversary of the start of the pandemic having recently passed, and with more Americans getting the recommended vaccination, Gary and other Northwest Indiana residents will now have an opportunity to receive free vaccine shots.
Gary’s center will be at Calumet New Tech High School and will be operational on Saturday, March 20, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and on Sunday, March 21, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Residents can schedule their appointment at OurShot.In.gov. Residents can also call 211 to book appointments.
State health officials say coronavirus vaccine shots have been given to more than 16,000 people during Indiana’s first mass vaccination clinic run, and all appointments have been filled for two other vaccination sites.
This is good news for the potential reopening of the state, as it has lagged behind other states, with only 11 percent of the state’s population being vaccinated, below the national average of 14.6 percent.
“Do it. Just do it…,” said Governor Eric Holcomb after he received his vaccination at Indianapolis Motor Speedway earlier this week. “This will help us beat COVID-19. The more the faster.”
In Indiana, while Black residents make up 9.8 percent of the state’s population, they comprise only 4.7 percent of those who have been vaccinated. Latinx residents make up 7 percent of the state’s population but only 2.2 percent have been vaccinated.
Eligibility currently remains open for residents 50 years or older, first-responders and healthcare professionals. Residents who are at high-risk within specific circles will receive a notification of registration.
The vaccine that will be offered is Johnson and Johnson’s Janssen COVID-19, which has a 66.3 percent effective rate in its clinical trials, preventing laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 illness in people who had no evidence of prior infection two weeks after receiving the vaccine. Recipients had the most protection two weeks after being vaccinated.
Distribution of vaccines around the U.S. began in mid-December, with more than 93 million doses having been administered, according to federal data collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
State Health Commissioner Dr. Kristina Box and Indiana’s health care providers’ plans for mass vaccination sites all over Indiana have been a point of pride for officials as they continue a push to get as many people vaccinated as quickly as possible.
“That is a powerful, positive milestone to achieve,” Holcomb said.
Lake County has had 48,000 cases of COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic as well as over 900 deaths. There were over 800 cases with 16 deaths this past week, according to Indiana public health officials.
Almost 700,000 residents in Indiana have been fully vaccinated with just over 1.1 million first doses having been administered throughout the state.