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Health care workers wanting COVID-19 vaccinations crash state website

"Most of us are viewing these technical issues as positives that the demand for the vaccine is proving to be very, very strong."

INDIANAPOLIS — Even before the first shipment of COVID-19 vaccine arrived in Indiana Monday, Hoosiers trying to sign up for vaccinations overwhelmed the state's enrollment website.

"Due to a large amount of traffic, the site is currently down. Check back this afternoon," read the message left by a state department of health worker.

Members of the Indiana Coalition of Patient Safety took the apparent hiccup in stride.

"Most of us are viewing these technical issues as positives that the demand for the vaccine is proving to be very, very strong," said Dr. Christopher Doehring or Franciscan Health Indianapolis.

Coalition members have more immediate concerns. They are struggling to care for record numbers of COVID infected patients. Hospitals are many times full to capacity.

"Where we are having extended holds in the emergency department we've had to go on EMS diversion more in the last two weeks than in the last two years," Dr. Christopher Doehring explained. 

Hospital employees are suffering too. Many are infected, quarantined and more than tired.

"This work is physically and emotionally exhausting," said Lee Ann Blue, chief nursing officer of Eskenazi Hospital. "You can see it in their eyes, above their masks but in their eyes."

Many of these doctors and hospital executives see the situation getting worse before it gets better. 

The current increase in COVID cases is attributed to Thanksgiving gatherings. A second wave of cases caused by holiday gatherings may hit hospitals during what is usually a busy time of the year.

"We are busy with other respiratory infections and pneumonia and everything else. So whether it is a surge on top of a surge is one thing, but this just makes it even more challenging for us," Dr. Michele Saysana of IU Health said. 

Health care workers in the briefing weren't asking, they were pleading with people to wear masks, keep their distance and avoid large and small gatherings.

The arrival of a vaccine is a light at the end of the tunnel, but many fear it is a very long and very dark tunnel. 

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