Help stop the spread of illnesses

After coming out of a big surge in COVID-19 cases in September, Indiana was making good progress getting back toward the kind of low activity seen earlier this summer.

Unfortunately, the progress has halted recently and it looks like the state is seeing a new uptick in cases, again.

This fall, we know that most of the new cases and serious impacts were being suffered by the half of Hoosiers — and more than half of residents locally — who have not been vaccinated against the virus.

At this time last year, cases were on the way to their highest point ever, although we don’t expect to see that again.

Getting vaccinated remains the most effective way to protect yourself and others from COVID-19, although we know that, now a year in, continued pleas are only falling on deaf ears.

Still, short of getting vaccinated, there’s other things you can do.

Wearing a mask is one of them, although we know that’s, for some reason, equally as unpopular as vaccination. However, we know last year that masks also helped cut back on other communicable diseases like flu, colds and other viruses, so wearing one can help on a lot of fronts.

Otherwise, the most important and easiest thing you can do is stay home if you’re sick. If you’re running a fever, snotting and coughing, or feeling generally ill — stay home. Use a sick day at work or take a day home from school.

Don’t share your illness — COVID or otherwise — with other people. That might mean missing events or family gatherings this holiday, but we’re certain your loved ones will appreciate you not giving them the gift of a virus this season.

Health officials should make vaccination efforts convenient

Children age 5-11 can now get a COVID-19 vaccine.

But will they, especially if the effort to do so is not convenient?

When vaccines first became available earlier this year, local health departments made efforts to make them as widely available as possible, with long clinic hours both during the day and the evening.

Demand is much lower now, so it doesn’t make much sense to keep those long hours any more.

But what also doesn’t make sense is upcoming child vaccination clinics running during the day.

DeKalb County has two clinics coming up for children 5-11, but those clinics run from 9 a.m. to 2:50 p.m. on Mondays. Not only do parents potentially have to take time off work, but they’d have to pull their children out of school to go get a vaccine.

That’s disruptive and inconvenient, and we know from earlier this year that the less convenient it is to get a vaccine, the fewer people who will get one.

Noble County set a better example. Its recent children’s shot clinic ran from 3-6 p.m. this past Monday — after school and at the end of the work day.

Steuben County isn’t currently offering any after-hours appointments, but is at least encouraging parents looking for vaccines for their youngsters to try a local pharmacy if they need a shot after hours.

Local residents don’t need any additional excuses to pass on a vaccine. Vaccine uptake in northeast Indiana is already behind the state average and uptake among younger people is lowest among all age groups.

Health groups should cater to the specific needs of this unique demographic and find ways to offer shots at a convenient place and time after school hours.
© 2021 KPC Media Group, Inc.