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COVID-19 vaccinations starting to ramp up, schools working with new metrics

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Health Department on a mission to get African Americans to take COVID-19 vaccine

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The county health department will begin to administer COVID-19 vaccines next week to those who are eligible.

The vaccine is currently available for licensed and unlicensed health care workers and first responders, as well as anyone who is 80 and older. Visit ourshot.in.gov to register for a time slot. Registration opens at 9 a.m. Jan. 8.

Marion County Public Health Department Director Dr. Virginia Caine said during a COVID-19 update Jan. 7 the department will use the same vaccine guidelines from the state, which gives priority to people who are at the greatest risk of contracting and experiencing complications from the disease.

The health department will work with community leaders, including faith leaders, to promote the vaccine.

Learn more about the COVID-19 vaccine here.

Caine also announced the health department will adopt new COVID-19 metrics for schools, which should allow for a more targeted approach to closings and not cause the major disruptions that were common throughout 2020.

The new metrics are color-coded, similar to what the health department used in the past.

A school’s positivity rate is …

· Green — less than or equal to 25% of the community positivity rate. (Schools should continue to monitor the situation.)

· Yellow — greater than 25% but less than or equal to 75% of the community positivity rate. (Schools should continue to monitor the situation.)

· Orange — greater than 75% but less than or equal to 100% of the community positivity rate. (The health department will work with the school to prevent a further increase.)

· Red — greater than the community positivity rate. (The health department will work with the school to decrease cases.)

No zone would automatically force a school to close. The health department will make decisions one case at a time.

Many schools have already been reporting their COVID-19 cases to the health department, but a new public health order mandates schools have to report positive cases and differentiate between students who are learning virtually versus those who are at school.

The metrics will be reviewed on a two-week, rolling basis. Based on the new metrics, Caine said it looks like the health department would close 12 to 15 schools per 30-day period.

Contact staff writer Tyler Fenwick at 317-762-7853. Follow him on Twitter @Ty_Fenwick.

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