The first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered across the country and throughout Indiana, but Johnson County might have to wait a little longer to receive more doses.
Johnson County Health Department Director Betsy Swearingen said the county began receiving vaccine doses Dec. 18. She said the county gave 9,000 to 10,000 received doses to Johnson Memorial Health.
As far as getting more vaccines delivered for the county, Swearingen said the recent snowfall has caused a backlog of vaccines and the county is having trouble getting those doses out to people.
“I don’t have any idea when we’ll see more and when the state will open up more age groups,” she said.
Currently, the state is only allowing certain groups to get vaccinated. This includes health care workers, those over the age of 60 and first responders.
Johnson County nursing homes and rehabilitation centers were hit hard by the virus and had a high percentage of positive results and death rates. One nursing home in Franklin saw seven COVID-19 deaths in just a 2-week period.
On the opposite side, Homeview Center of Franklin had no cases from the beginning of the pandemic in March to October. But since October, they had 70 residents and 56 employees test positive for the virus. As far as symptoms, many residents experienced flu like symptoms, such as fever, body aches, chills and fatigue. Other residents were asymptomatic, meaning they showed no symptoms, and still tested positive for the virus.
Mark Gavorski, administrator of Homeview Center of Franklin, has been working as an administrator for over 32 years, and said after facing many crises in his years, COVID is a problem that has persisted.
“This pandemic has lasted over a year now,” Gavorski said. “It’s hard to sustain your energy and focus. People are exhausted and tired of the problem, the pandemic.”
Since the release of the vaccine, 75 of the residents have received both doses of the vaccine, while 10 residents are waiting until March 5 to get their second dose. Sides effects from the vaccines range from sore arms and mild fevers to others feeling as if they have COVID all over again.
Garvorski, along with other employees such as nurse practitioners and therapists, also received both doses of the vaccine to help prevent the spread and be a role model for those who have not yet received their vaccine.
“Some of the people who had COVID, employee or resident, got the vaccine and then their body stepped up and said ‘Hey, I’ve seen this before’ and then they have COVID symptoms all over again,” Garvorski said. “I had a couple employees say ‘I feel like I’ve had COVID three times now’, because they got the two vaccines.”
While many are still waiting for the vaccine as the virus spreads, the numbers in Johnson County have started to go down, which Garvoski said is good news.
At its peak in December, the county saw up to 193 new positive cases a day. Now, the county has began to see under 20 new cases per day.
“It’d be nice to see the light at the end of the tunnel. I’m thankful that the positive ratings in Johnson County as of the end of February is below 5%,” Garvoski said.
“They talk about the variant levels when you do the COVID test and the new strands, so we don’t know if this is just the calm before the storm again. We’ve got to stay on guard.”