EMA director deployed to Gary mass vaccination site

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GARY, Ind. — Montgomery County Emergency Management Agency Director Shari Harrington was deployed as part of a task force to set up a mass COVID-19 vaccination site in Gary.

Harrington arrived in the city Monday with members of the Indiana Department of Homeland Security District 1 Law Enforcement Strike Team the day before the site opened at a former high school.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has teamed up with local and state officials to establish vaccine clinics in underserved areas that have been disproportionately impacted by the coronavirus.

Officials planned to vaccinate 2,000 people a day, but exceeded that goal yesterday, Harrington said.

“I’ve seen license plates from lots of different places,” she said by phone, as workers gave shots in the pouring rain.

Harrington, who often deploys with Homeland Security for large-scale events, was tasked with gathering paperwork and reports at the site. When Gov. Eric Holcomb and Indiana State Health Commissioner Dr. Kris Box visited this week, she presented them with a challenge coin symbolizing the deployment.

More than 100,000 Indiana residents will be vaccinated at the site, according to the White House. Any Indiana resident can sign up for an appointment, but the focus is on high-risk and underserved citizens in northwestern Indiana who may lack access to the vaccine.

The site is expected to remain open through at least June, ensuring those vaccinated will receive both doses of the Pfizer vaccine. The one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine will be given in the clinic’s final weeks.

Sometime after returning home today, Harrington said she would brief the Montgomery County Health Department and the Community Paramedicine Program on the clinic. She will be part of a rotation of administrators helping run the Gary site.

An additional 30,699 Hoosiers were reported fully vaccinated Thursday, according to the Indiana State Department of Health. That brings the total of fully vaccinated people to 1,321,876.

More than 6,100 Montgomery County residents have been fully vaccinated, according to state figures.

 

The Associated Press and WMAQ-TV in Chicago contributed to this report.

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