Elkhart County health officer discusses vaccine distribution

Published: Jan. 12, 2021 at 5:39 PM EST
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ELKHART COUNTY, Ind. (WNDU) - This week, Elkhart County’s Health Department began offering COVID 19 vaccinations to residents age 80 and older.

The vaccine is arriving about the same time as Elkhart County’s newly hired Health Officer, Dr. Bethany Wait.

“We have 200,000 people in our county and the health department our self only had 1,000 vaccines first round, so we are way, we still have a ton of work to do,” Dr. Wait said.

Dr. Wait is perhaps uniquely qualified for the job. She has battled COVID as a medical professional and as a patient.

“I had COVID 19 in April and I had a very severe case,” Dr. Wait said during a virtual roundtable meeting today. “I still got the vaccine because I am terrified to get COVID 19 again.”

Dr. Wait made it clear she’ll do everything within her power to get people vaccinated despite the fact that she had a bad reaction to the vaccine. “And so with my first vaccination, I had a pretty sore arm. I had chills that night. I remember waking up in the middle of the night and getting up and taking some Aleve because I had some decent chills. Now if I had to describe the chills that I had when I had COVID 19 opposed to the ones I had to the vaccine; I’d take the vaccine ones every day.”

Dr. Wait said she was “disappointed” that the health department vaccination clinic was catering only to people age 80 and above, saying: “Indiana in particular, has decided that I don’t want to go through which jobs we want to consider essential and non-essential. We just want to go by age. If you look, you’re most likely to be hospitalized between 50 and 100 and so that’s why they’re starting out that way.”

Dr. Wait would prefer to stick to the essential worker model and get right to vaccinating teachers. “One, our schools can’t stay open because out teachers keep getting sick, and as a community, and to keep businesses open, we need our kids in school. And so, and they’re higher risk just because they are living in the asymptomatic group.”

Dr. Wait also plans to bring vaccines directly into the communities that may be among them most reluctant to get vaccinated—the Amish, Latino, and African American communities.

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