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Tippecanoe County Health Department sees surge in COVID vaccinations after expanded booster approval

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Tippecanoe County Health Department expanded COVID-19 vaccine booster eligibility on Friday (WBAA News/Ben Thorp)

The Tippecanoe County Health Department has administered roughly 400 COVID-19 booster shots, just days after the CDC expanded booster eligibility to include Moderna and Johnson and Johnson vaccine recipients. 

Currently, booster shots are available to individuals who were vaccinated with their first dose of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine six or more months ago and are aged 65 and older. These boosters are also available to people aged 18 and older who have underlying medical conditions, work in high-risk settings, or live in long term care facilities.

For those who received the J&J shot, boosters are available to anyone aged 18 and older who received the vaccine at least two months ago.

Health department administrator Khala Hochstedler said the department is following the CDC guidance, and has seen a surge in vaccination appointments since the additional boosters were authorized last week.

“Right now we’re kind of overwhelmed with the booster doses we’re doing right now,” she said.

According to Hochstedler, the department had administered over 200 vaccines by 11 a.m. on Monday. That stands in stark contrast to first-time COVID vaccination appointments - which Hochstedler said have declined sharply.

“Right now we are hardly ever, it’s extremely rare, seeing a first dose walk in the door,” she said.

County-wide vaccination against COVID stands at 52%. That’s lower than the national rate of 57%, but higher than the state rate of just under 50%.

Hochstedler said the department is hopeful that COVID vaccines will be approved for children aged five to 11 sometime in November. But, she said, they aren’t going to try and convince parents to get their kids vaccinated.

“I don’t think a parent who hasn’t taken the vaccine is going to be rushing to vaccinate their child -- no convincing is going to change that,” she said. “So we’re going to just, in the beginning, focus on who shows up.”

Booster appointments can be scheduled at ourshot.in.gov, though the health department is also taking walk-in appointments. The department’s vaccination clinic has been moved to 1950 South 18th Street in Lafayette, across from Jefferson High School.