Schneck officials promote vaccine, share info on new virus strain


Around 45% of Jackson County residents are fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

In recent weeks, Schneck Medical Center has had zero in-patients with the virus. Earlier this week, there were only three, said Dr. Eric Fish, president and chief executive officer of the Seymour hospital.

Even with a lower number of cases being reported, local hospital and health department officials continue to encourage people to get vaccinated.

While some are hesitant to get the vaccine for various reasons, Fish said it’s safe and effective and is preventing severe disease.

“Have people died who have gotten the vaccine? Yes, they have from COVID, but it’s like 0.0001%,” he said during Monday’s Schneck board of trustees meeting.

Some are hesitant because they claim the shot isn’t Food and Drug Administration approved and is just an emergency use authorization, some believe a microchip is being injected in their body and some believe stories they read on social media.

“They don’t understand that the viral template is something new, technology that we didn’t have three to five years ago, so that’s why we can produce the vaccine,” Fish said.

“(It’s also) the first time we’ve obviously had any type of pandemic or any type of major issue in the country where social media has become the voice.”

Some also have mistrust in the system or the government, while some are worried about the side effects from the vaccine.

“All of that has just been lost with this because it has become such a politicized situation,” Fish said of national government and health leaders disagreeing. “It’s a perfect storm for where we’re at today.”

Dr. Ryan Stone, chief medical officer for Schneck, said he’s seeing the uncertainty among patients from the primary care side, too.

“Nobody ever thinks that it’s going to be them. ‘I’m healthy. I’m not going to be the one that gets sick with it.’ Or ‘My friend had it, and they only had a cough, so I can deal with a cough’ and then they end up on the ventilator,” he said. “It may just be a cough for some people, but you may be the one that it’s not just a cough, and there’s no way to predict what that looks like.”

“Debunking the myths” has been the biggest fight, Stone said.

“This isn’t a political issue. This isn’t a political disease. This is a public health issue,” he said. “We really have to make sure that, especially in our community, we’re being the ones to really kind of push that out in the community or we’re going to have another resurgence and we’re going to be back where we were in November of 2020.”

At that time, the spread of COVID-19 intensified in Jackson County and the rest of Indiana after some places loosened their restrictions. There also was a significant increase in hospitalizations, and Jackson County was at the orange (second-highest) level based on a seven-day positivity rate.

Currently, the county is at the blue (lowest) level.

Local health officials, however, have expressed some concern about the new Delta variant of the virus, which originated from India, has been dominant in the United Kingdom in terms of infection rates and has started to become significant in the United States. It’s more transmissible and people get more sick compared to earlier strains, particularly among the unvaccinated population.

“The ones that are not vaccinated are the ones that are still seeking care, so a concern I know we have is that as this Delta variant spreads, we may very well see another spike within the next four to six weeks as that hits the younger population and the more severely ill,” Fish said.

Schneck encourages people to get vaccinated because the current vaccines are effective against variants. The two-dose Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are available to ages 12 and up, while the single-dose Johnson and Johnson vaccine is open to ages 18 and up.

“We continue to push and push and push the vaccine,” Fish said. “I know we’ve done a lot of work within industries and we have one large employer now (hosting vaccine clinics), so anything we can do to continue to push vaccinations is important so that we don’t get back in the situation we’ve been in last winter, for sure.”

Susan Zabor, vice president of clinical and provider management and chief quality officer for Schneck, said there has been less interest from local industries than she anticipated, and she’s also working with local school corporations to set up onsite vaccination clinics.

“You tell us when you want us to do it and how many you’re thinking that you will have there, and we will come to you whenever that’s convenient,” she said.

The Healthy Jackson County Hispanic Health Task Force also is assisting with the vaccination efforts. Zabor said a recent clinic at St. Ambrose Catholic School in Seymour had 30 people sign up, but 95 wound up getting vaccinated, and they are setting up clinics for other local ethnic populations.

“We’re trying to figure out ways to get vaccines to people, not having them come to us, but (go) to them,” Zabor said.

Fish also said state officials are looking into vaccination clinics at county fairs, including the Jackson County Fair on the last week of July in Brownstown. That would be coordinated by the Jackson County Health Department, and Schneck could assist.

“Health departments aren’t staffed for this, but this is a great opportunity for both organizations to work together and use the resources that we both have to get through this,” Fish said. “Whatever we have to do, we’re willing to do it.”

Also, Kathy Covert, vice president of workforce and support services for Schneck, said primary care practices in the Schneck Professional Building began offering the vaccine to patients on Monday.

“Which should also help with that access and make it easier for people,” she said. “That’s an option for us now, which is really nice.”

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"This isn’t a political issue. This isn’t a political disease. This is a public health issue."

Dr. Ryan Stone, chief medical officer for Schneck Medical Center in Seymour

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For information about the COVID-19 vaccine, visit or


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