ANDERSON — Although Madison County has returned from yellow to blue status, county health department administrator Stephenie Grimes said she agreed wholeheartedly with President Joe Biden when he said that we cannot afford to let our guard down now.

“I think we’re starting to feel and experience some relief,” Grimes said. “While we should enjoy that, we should still be diligent.”

Being diligent, she said, means washing hands, staying home if you’re sick, socially distancing and continuing to wear a mask while indoors and around people who are outside your “social bubble.”

Grimes spent Thursday at Anderson University’s campus administering about 340 second doses of COVID-19 vaccine.

“I’m proud of our vaccination efforts in the county,” she said. “We’re holding at about 30%. I would like to see us be a little higher.”

Grimes said Madison County was among the first in the state to go to blue status, which she attributes to good communication between the health department, various emergency response agencies, hospitals and schools.

“Testing is a huge component, because if someone doesn’t know they’re infected they could be out and about infecting other people,” she said.

Vaccinations hit a slump, the New York Times reported, after the Food and Drug Administration called for a pause of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine on April 13 due to blood clotting risks. The pause was lifted on April 23.

Grimes said she believes that a decline in vaccinations over those two weeks was inevitable in order to address the concerns.

“If there were those occurrences and they hadn’t been addressed and acknowledged, you’d have those folks who were hesitant to begin with being even more so,” Grimes said. “Regardless of how it was handled, there probably would have been strong opinions on either side.”

When asked about FDA approval of the vaccines, Grimes said they are approved by the FDA for emergency use.

For those who are hesitant about vaccination, Grimes recommends addressing those concerns with a professional.

“Ask a doctor’s opinion,” she said. “Have a conversation with someone who’s knowledgeable. We have the power to prevent this infection.”

As of Thursday, a total of 4,171,765 doses have been administered in Indiana, the state health department reported. This includes 2,331,069 first doses and 1,840,696 individuals who are fully vaccinated. The fully vaccinated number represents individuals who have received a second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines and those who received the single Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

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