La PORTE — La Porte County residents 80 and over can get free COVID-19 vaccinations starting Friday.

State health officials announced Wednesday that beginning at 9 a.m. Jan. 8, Indiana residents 80 or older will be able to sign up for the vaccination through OurShot.in.gov or by calling the state’s 211 telephone assistance service.

La Porte County’s vaccination site will be at the Community Building at the La Porte County Fairgrounds at 2581 W. State Road 2 in La Porte, according to Dr. Sandra Deausy, county health officer.

Appointment times will vary based on availability, according to the La Porte County Health Department, which reminds residents not to call the department for an appointment, but to go through the state website or call 211.

Vaccinations will be by appointment only, and no walk-ups will be accommodated at this time, Deausy said.

The call center for 211 will be open from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. (CST) daily, including weekends. Family members may make appointments for seniors, and a photo ID will be asked for at the time of the appointment.

La Porte County will be receiving the Moderna brand vaccine, and an appointment to receive the second dose will be made when residents receive their first dose, Deausy said. Reminder messages will be sent leading up to the second dose appointment.

People 80 years old and older account for 3.8 percent of the state’s population, but more than 19 percent of hospitalizations and 52 percent of deaths from COVID-19, according to state officials.

Dr. Lindsay Weaver, the state’s chief medical officer, said Indiana will follow the 80-plus age group with people 70 and older, and then 60 older, though no timeline is available for when the vaccine will be available to these age groups.

The Indiana State Department of Health on Thursday reported 7,344 additional Hoosiers have been diagnosed with COVID-19, bringing the total to 546,499. Another 81 deaths were reported, raising the toll to 8,452 confirmed and 371 probable deaths.

Another 58 cases and 2 more deaths were reported in La Porte County, bringing the totals to 8,004 cases and 145 deaths. The 7-day positivity rate for all tests was at 18.1 percent and the rate for unique individuals tested was 25 percent.

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