The Journal Gazette
Wednesday, April 28, 2021 1:00 am

Alert sent to promote vaccination site

Phone texts tell of speedway; some criticism follows

NIKI KELLY | The Journal Gazette

INDIANAPOLIS – The state of Indiana sent an emergency alert to cellphones in central Indiana on Tuesday – but it wasn't about a kidnapped child or an endangered adult.

The alert told Hoosiers about the free vaccination clinic at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Thursday in which appointments wouldn't be needed and offered a choice between Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer shots.

And Twitter had a lot to say on both sides of the topic.

The Indiana State Department of Health said the decision to issue the alerts was made by the health department in consultation with the Indiana Department of Homeland Security and FEMA. The alert met the standards outlined by FEMA's Integrated Public Alert and Warning System.

It went to those in Marion and surrounding counties to help increase participation at the IMS mass vaccination clinic.

Health department spokeswoman Megan Wade-Taxter said the agency sent a similar alert to Lake and surrounding counties last week and saw an increase in vaccination walk-ins at the FEMA mass vaccination site in Gary.

“The alert system is just one tool that the Indiana Department of Health has utilized to promote awareness of COVID-19 vaccination clinics. We launched a statewide public awareness campaign in January that includes radio ads, billboards, bus wraps, commercials and social media advertising. We also have promoted vaccine clinics around the state through direct text messaging to specific ZIP codes,” Wade-Taxter said.

“Our goal continues to be to ensure that Hoosiers are aware that vaccine is available to them at no cost and at a convenient time and location and to remove barriers to getting vaccinated.”

But some on Twitter, some felt it was an inappropriate use of an emergency system.

“I just received a alert on my phone to get a Covid vaccine. As if it is a emergency. Indiana's infection rates and deaths are the lowest they been since last spring. I think I'm good ... no thanks,” said one tweet.

Another post – “The fact that I just got an 'emergency' alert letting me know that there are free vaccines between X time and date at X location is unreal. How is that an emergency?!”

And one person said “I think the folks who are leery and think that COVID is big government trying to assert control will use this as an example to support their argument.”

But a ton of Hoosiers were defending the use.

“Alert system often used with the hope of saving one life. If this alert encourages some people to get vaxxed, could save many lives. Well worth it, IMO,” one said.

Another person said, “While – to me – it's definitely not the same level of emergency as an Amber Alert or tornado, etc., it's really not that big of a deal. If that's the biggest thing someone has to complain about today, they're having a pretty awesome day.”

And then there was this: “Doubt people would complain if it included a lottery drawing for free Indy 500 pit passes.”

At a glance

An additional 867 Indiana residents have been diagnosed with COVID-19 and 13 more residents have died. A total of 716,306 residents have tested positive.

To date, 12,883 Hoosiers are confirmed to have died from COVID-19. An additional 410 probable deaths have been reported based on clinical diagnoses in patients for whom no positive test is on record.

In Allen County, 67 more residents tested positive for COVID-19, for a total of 39,846 cases. No new deaths were added to the county's total of total of 672 deaths Tuesday.

Fully vaccinated residents by county

Adams: 7,557 (29.4%)

Allen: 95,073 (32.4%)

DeKalb: 9,150 (26.7%)

Huntington: 9,833 (33.3%)

Kosciusko: 16,190 (25.8%)

LaGrange: 5,413 (19.1%)

Noble: 9,647 (25.8%)

Steuben: 10,139 (35.6%)

Wabash: 7,438 (29.2%)

Wells: 6,319 (28.5%)

Whitley: 8,441 (34.1%)

Source: Indiana State

Department of Health

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