COVID-19 vaccinations ‘slowing down’ amid vaccine hesitancy

COVID-19 vaccinations ‘slowing down’ amid vaccine hesitancy

EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WFIE) - After nearly five months with coronavirus vaccines, local health officials tell us new appointments are slowing down.

It’s a national trend that is leaving vaccine clinics with open appointments at the end of the day.

While there are hundreds of shots going into arms in Vanderburgh County every day, the supply could start to outweigh the demand.

Deaconess Health System has the capacity to vaccinate more than 1,500 people per day, but Pharmacy Service Line Manager Brian Spencer says that’s not happening.

“There’s a lot of open appointments,” says Spencer, “so anyone who wants a vaccine can get one.”

Spencer says the initial push to vaccinate those at high-risk has come and gone, and now, younger people are not as eager to sign up.

“Mortality has not been that high, so you understand the reason for the vaccine hesitancy,” says Spencer, “but that was before we had all the variants. Now, we have variants that are more transmissible, and frankly, more deadly.”

Health officials say another reason for fewer appointments could be barriers preventing people from getting to vaccine clinics.

That’s where the Vanderburgh County Health Department comes into play. It is launching mobile vaccine clinics in May to bring the vaccine to Hoosiers.

“We do agree that we need to always continue to look at the best way to do things,” says Health Department Administrator Joe Gries. “Come up with new ideas and creative ways to get the vaccine and make it available.”

Doctors at Ascension St. Vincent are also getting creative, launching outreach programs and using social media to connect to young people.

Dr. Heidi Dunniway is the regional chief medical officer for Ascension St. Vincent.

“Half of our community has already received at least the first dose, so that is great,” says Dr. Dunniway. “We want to keep that going so we can get back to more normal functioning.”

Health officials agree, ‘watching and waiting’ is not the right approach when it comes to coronavirus vaccines.

“There’s really no time to wait,” says Spencer. “If we want to get through this pandemic, everyone needs to be vaccinated.”

Both Deaconess and Ascension St. Vincent are now offering walk-in appointments if it’s easier for people to stop by before or after work.

Health officials say if you do have any questions or concerns about the vaccines, do not be afraid to ask your doctor, so they can give you accurate information specific to your health needs.

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