NOBLESVILLE, Ind. — Hamilton County’s mass vaccine clinic at the 4-H Fairgrounds in Noblesville will close on Feb. 18 after a decline in demand for the shot.
“In the effort to free up space and right-size our operation, we are opting to move back to our office,” said Chris Walker, emergency preparedness coordinator for the Hamilton County Health Department. “It’s time for us to kind of collapse down our efforts to a more compact space, but this doesn’t mean we are out of this. If something changes and demand increases, we do have the flexibility to move back in there.”
The clinic was open for five months. Walker said during the omicron and delta surge, the clinic was serving about 400 people a day. In the last few weeks, it’s been about 100 daily.
“We got that initial interest, and then it started tapering off after that,” Walker said.
Health departments are also seeing a decline in testing.
“It’s been going down just as fast as it came up,” said Monica Heltz, director of the Fishers Health Department.
For months, Fishers Health Department was slammed with testing appointments, but now, Heltz said it’s a lot easier to find a time slot.
“It was frustrating when we couldn’t offer that every day, but we are glad that we are back in a position where that’s not a critical need right now,” she said.
This drop in demand comes as cases slowly fall across the state.
Thomas Duszynski, director of epidemiology education at IU’s Fairbanks School of Public Health, said testing decline usually correlates with the severity of the disease and the number of cases in the community.
“Our case rates are dropping, therefore testing is dropping and fewer people are becoming infected, thus fewer people are symptomatic and seeking out a test,” he said.
Duszynski said another driver in this decline is the widespread availability of at-home tests.
“It’s so much more convenient to walk to the medicine cabinet and grab an at-home test now than it is to drive to a site and wait in line and wait for those results,” Duszynski said.
Many times, those at-home results go unreported to the state and local health departments, which can be problematic for tracking the virus and emerging variants, according to Duszynski.
“We could miss, or initially miss, a variant or the beginning of a spike in a community or in a state, for instance,” Duszynski said.
The Indiana Department of Health has previously said there is no way to verify an at-home test was performed correctly or gave an accurate result, adding the number of cases reported will always be lower than the actual total.
The Hamilton County Health Department will move its vaccination clinic back to offices at 18030 Foundation Drive in Noblesville starting Monday, Feb. 21.
Appointments can be made here or by calling 211.
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