Allen County health officials said Tuesday they expect the next prioritized group to begin receiving COVID-19 vaccines this month.
Local health officials said they expect the state to announce the next prioritized group soon and will be prepared to administer the vaccine as early as mid-January.
“As soon as we have that information, we will release details on how qualifying groups can register for their appointment and where vaccination will take place,” Megan Hubartt, director of communications for the Allen County Department of Health, said in an email.
Allen County Health Commissioner Dr. Matthew Sutter and county Health Administrator Mindy Waldron explained some of the details of the vaccines during an online presentation organized by Greater Fort Wayne Inc.
In Allen County, health care workers and some first responders are currently being vaccinated, Waldron said.
When the next prioritized group and vaccination location are announced, appointments will be scheduled by phone and online. Vaccines will be offered five to six days a week free of charge, though the health department will ask those getting the vaccine to provide insurance information, Waldron said.
Appointments could take less than 30 minutes per person but could take up to 40 minutes for those who require longer observations. A second dose will be scheduled while recipients are at the first appointment, Waldron said.
Other details could be announced next week and will be available on the department's website, www.allencountyhealth.com.
Health officials presented the information the same day Allen County reported 15 more deaths and 191 cases, bringing the totals to 29,111 cases and 508 deaths Tuesday. The DeKalb County Health Department reported 22 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the total number of cases to 3,148. Sixty-eight DeKalb County residents have died, the county health department said.
Indiana health officials reported 3,477 new coronavirus infections and 142 additional deaths as the state is beginning to see a slow increase of coronavirus-related hospitalizations following a previous series of spikes in December.
The newly recorded coronavirus deaths, of which more than 100 occurred since the start of the new year, raised Indiana's toll to 8,663, including victims with both confirmed and presumed infections, according to the Indiana State Department of Health's daily update.
The state agency also reported that Indiana hospitals had 2,907 coronavirus patients as of Monday, 71 more than Sunday and the most since Dec. 29. The COVID-19 hospitalizations have declined about 16% since peaking Nov. 30 but remain more than three times higher than in September.
Of those being treated, 591 people are in intensive care, according to the state health department's online dashboard.
The number of Indiana residents known to have had the coronavirus is now up to 533,083.
To date, 2,681,739 unique individuals have been tested in Indiana, up from 2,675,056 on Monday, the department said. A total of 5,845,344 tests, including repeat tests for unique individuals, have been reported to the state Department of Health since Feb. 26.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.
Allen: 191 (15 deaths)
Huntington: 24 (1)
Kosciusko: 25 (3)
Noble: 21 (1)
Whitley: 14 (1)
Sources: Indiana State Department of Health, Allen County Department of Health, DeKalb County Health Department
Citizens Square remains closed
Mayor Tom Henry announced Tuesday that Citizens Square will remain closed to the public. Plans now call for the building to reopen Jan. 25. Citizens Square has been closed since Nov. 23.
In addition, a number of other city of Fort Wayne-owned buildings will remain closed to the public.
That includes the Fort Wayne Metropolitan Human Relations Commission office, Fort Wayne Parks and Recreation Department office and Parks and Recreation pavilions, community centers, and youth centers. The Foellinger-Freimann Botanical Conservatory remains open. Fort Wayne Animal Care & Control's facility is operating under restricted access.
Residents can go to www.cityoffortwayne.org, where a link on the homepage contains health information about COVID-19, what local services are available to help individuals and families in need of assistance, and how the public can continue to conduct business with city government while Citizens Square is closed.