VIGO COUNTY, IND. (WTHI) -- Local health officials are stepping up vaccination efforts in the area. Vigo County recently received a grant from the state to help get more people vaccinated.
The grant is worth $221,000. This comes at a time when interest in the vaccine has dropped significantly in recent weeks. Local health officials hope this new grant will help educate more people about COVID-19 and bring more awareness to the vaccine.
"We need to work now on getting the vaccine numbers up," Roni Elder, a health educator at the Vigo County Health Department, said. "That way, we can get people vaccinated and get that herd immunity. It's more important to get it done now than later."
As of Wednesday, 45% of eligible Vigo County residents were fully vaccinated. According to the CDC this is below the national average which is at 52% of the eligible population.
But now, local health officials say this number could climb, especially with the help of a recent grant worth more than $200,000.
"It's a lot of money," Elder said. "The main thing here is reaching people and educating them. That's really where we are putting our money towards trying to reach people who we are not reaching at this point and get them the right education."
Elder says she doesn't expect numbers to climb right away but believes the county will see vaccine numbers pick back up in the Fall.
"I think, more realistically, we will have a big surge of people wanting to get vaccinated right before school starts," she said.
For now, Elder and many others at the Vigo County Health Department will be working to make the best use of this grant money.
She wants to use the money to educate and encourage others about the benefits of the vaccine. The specifics are still in the works.
"I am really grateful that we got this grant money," she said. "I am really excited to see what our team puts together and the creative ideas they come up with to help educate our community, and I am excited to continue to share that journey with everyone."
Nothing is set in stone yet, but Elder says the money could go toward things like billboards, pamphlets, social media posts, and other advertisements. The grant money will be available until June 2022.