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East Chicago Health Department offers COVID vaccine

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East Chicago City Hall

EAST CHICAGO — The East Chicago Health Department has begun administering the Moderna vaccine in the fight against COVID-19.

Health Department Director Diana Garcia Burns said 63 people received the vaccination on Tuesday, which marked the first day it was available at the department, located at 100 W. Chicago Ave.

She said things went smoothly and those vaccinated have been scheduled to receive their second shot 28 days after the first.

The vaccinations are free and available to any Indiana resident.

People can register to receive the vaccine at ourshot.in.gov. Those who need assistance to register can call the East Chicago Health Department at 219-391-8467, but might have to wait for a call back as the department is busy with both vaccinations and COVID-19 testing.

Garcia Burns said Tuesday her department is already booked with appointments for vaccinations until Wednesday.

She said those 70 years and older and people with serious health issues are currently eligible to receive the shot.

The East Chicago Health Department began conducting COVID-19 testing on Oct. 1 after receiving a $100,000 grant from the Indiana State Department of Health that allowed for the hiring of staff and the opening of a drive-thru testing site, also at 100 W. Chicago Ave.

No appointment is necessary for testing, which is free and open to any U.S. resident.

"We see approximately 200 people a day on our test site," Garcia Burns said. "And then on the weekend we cover around about 120."

Testing is available from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Tuesday through Friday, and from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday.

Vaccinations will be administered on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.

People have come from as far away as Valparaiso, Chesterton, Lowell, Crown Point and DeMotte to get tested, Garcia Burns said.

"It's about 72 hours for them to get the results," she said. "The results come to their phone."

Garcia Burns said East Chicago was doing well with COVID-19 cases before numbers shot up in the summer.

"We were seeing more children that were positive," Garcia Burns said., "During the summer people are gathering and they're traveling."

She said the number of positive cases in East Chicago is currently at a little over 2,700 and 47 deaths have been recorded.

Even with the vaccine now available, Garcia Burns said it is important that people continue to wear masks, keep socially distant and wash hands regularly.

"I think eventually we'll turn this corner," she said.

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