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A group of Montgomery County school employees will roll up their sleeves today in a public event to mark the state’s expansion of COVID-19 vaccinations to teachers and other school workers.
The 30 employees representing Crawfordsville, North and South Montgomery schools were selected by their districts to receive the Moderna vaccine from a community paramedic at Crawfordsville High School.
The effort grew out of a partnership among the schools, Crawfordsville Fire Department’s Community Paramedicine Program and the Montgomery County Health Department to increase community access to vaccines.
“It’s a celebration in many ways, kind of the exclamation at the end of a sentence,” said Amber Reed, health department administrator.
Also through the paramedicine program, the rest of the county’s school workers can receive their shot during special times set up at the South Boulevard vaccination clinic. The first dose will be administered from 2 to 6 p.m. Friday followed by the second dose April 16.
State health officials said Wednesday that the eligibility expansion comes at the direction of the Biden administration, which earlier allowed teachers to be vaccinated at pharmacies taking part in a federal program.
The paramedicine program’s role in the vaccines, overseen by community paramedic Spencer Stevens, is part of a first-in-the-nation approach to improving vaccination and immunization rates, including for hard-to-reach populations.
Last year, the fire departent received state funding to launch a vaccination and immunization program for children and uninsured adults. The department is the only one in the nation known to serve as a registered vaccine provider.
When a small shipment of the Johnson & Johnson single dose vaccine arrived from the state, the health department reached out to the paramedicine program to distribute the 200 doses to homebound residents.
“The plus with the clinic is you can come and get your vaccine, we schedule your second one and you can come back,” Reed said. “And that’s great if you’re mobile and there aren’t other issues going on, but the flexbility of Johnson & Johnson with it being a single dose makes it a perfect option to utilize paramedicine doing what they’re doing.”
Earlier this week, community paramedics went to the home of a woman recovering from a fall who couldn’t leave the house for her second dose of the vaccine. Neighbors called the paramedicine program.
The woman, a paramedicine client, broke down crying and hugged one of the community paramedics, said Paul Miller, EMS division chief.
“She just shared how appreciative she was and how much safer she felt by having the firefighters in the home,” Miller said.
The paramedicine program is seeking to expand its outreach through the Meals on Wheels program.
Requests for a homebound vaccine can be made at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 765-401-2513. Include your name, address, phone number and date of birth.
As of Friday, more than 6,000 Montgomery County residents have received the first dose of a two-dose COVID-19 vaccine, according to the Indiana State Department of Health.
More than half, or 3,802, of those individuals are fully vaccinated, including those who’ve received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
In the next stage of the broader vaccination campaign, the paramedicine program plans to work with employers to offer vaccines, such as flu and hepatitis shots, to workers.
“Just like the fire department would do in any situation, we’ll go anywhere for our community,” Miller said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.