Monroe County, Indiana – The Monroe County Board of Health discussed plans for the IU Health Bloomington hospital to administer 5,000 COVID-19 vaccines which will arrive sometime next week.

Penny Caudill, the Monroe County health administrator, said during a Wednesday meeting that Monroe County submitted its plans for the vaccine on Tuesday, the state’s due date. The IU Health Bloomington Hospital will be in charge of administering the 5,000 doses it will receive next week — which the board expects to be the Pfizer vaccine — to the five-county region of Monroe, Lawrence, Owen, Greene and Brown counties.

“The hospitals are prepared to accept the vaccine in the next week or 10 days and once the emergency authorization is given for the vaccine, to immediately start vaccinating health care personnel,” Caudill said Wednesday. “That starts with the hospitals, health care personnel who deal specifically with people who are infected or likely infected.

The Bloomington hospital is not just responsible for vaccinating only IU Health workers, but also all health care workers eligible for the first phase of vaccination. 

Caudill said by the start of 2021 she expects “small pods” to be set up for vulnerable populations to get the vaccine. And in the spring, the vaccine will be further pushed out into community clinics. 

Amy Meek, a nursing supervisor with IU Health who works closely with vaccine distribution, said there is a portal for health care workers to sign up to be vaccinated. Meek said it will be “first-come, first-served” on the portal for those who are eligible for the first dose. 

Health Board member Mark Norrell was concerned by Meek’s wording of “first-come, first-served” seeming to indicate a lack of a plan. However, Dr. Thomas Sharp, Monroe County’s Health Commissioner, said he is confident the hospital has a strong plan for distributing the vaccine. 

Once someone gets their first dose of the vaccine, the hospital will have them schedule a second one while there.

“That will help because it’s very important people get that second dose because with this vaccine that second dose is what’s really giving people that immunity,” Caudill said. 

Health care workers just have to show their employee badge for their vaccination. 

Meek said at this time IU Health is not mandating its employees get the vaccine.

Caudill said the Security Pro 24/7 company and the Sheriff’s office will both help with distribution of the vaccine and its security.