Shelby Co. fair offers free vaccines; ‘It’s critical. I think it’s critical for people who want this’

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SHELBYVILLE, Ind. — As more and more Hoosiers become vaccinated against COVID-19, we’re seeing the state’s daily infection rates against the virus fall, giving way to a rise in life feeling a bit more normal.

Carnivals, county fairs and all sorts of summer activities are returning and one in Shelby County has found a way to bring the fun while fighting to end the pandemic. 

“It’s critical. I think it’s critical for people who want the vaccine. We’re gonna be available at as many places and times that we can to make sure everybody is immunized that want it,” Shelby County Health Department Emergency Preparedness Coordinator Sandra Hall said. “Anybody who wants it, we just wanna make it available to em.”

You may think it odd to find vaccines among vendors at the fair… but for Hall the decision was a win win.

“What we’re trying to do is make sure we continue to have more activities like this and more fairs and more gatherings by doing the vaccinations here where many people will see,” Hall said. “It’s exciting because we’ve had a year and half of just everybody’s gotten, their whole lives have been turned upside down and to see their turnouts and to see people having fun and getting together again, it’s exciting.”

In what is typically a celebration of summer traditions, tastes and smells; this year’s return to the fair recognizes several firsts; a Ferris Wheel and vaccine clinic, while celebrating freedom from the fear felt by so many last year.

“I don’t want to have us see another pandemic like we’ve just had… because it had shut everything down. It was the first year of my life without the fair, but we didn’t have a choice,” Shelby County Fair President Jeff Pruitt said. “It’s a part of our growing up. We grew up with the fair and when you don’t have it, it’s a part of your life you miss.”

Pruitt has been involved with the fair for decades, he considered retiring this year, but he says the youth drive him to keep going – potentially protecting them this year was his motivation. 

“Anybody that we can get vaccinated and if it’ll help keep one person from getting it – it’s a great thing. I don’t know how to say it strong enough… everybody ought a be vaccinated,” Pruitt said. “I enjoy doing what I do but mostly the reason I’m into it I enjoy helping the youth. It’s to help the youth grow.”

With over a dozen eligible fairgoers rolling up their sleeves Wednesday night, organizers and medical experts alike agree seeing vaccines near corndogs, nachos and lemonade may not seem so out of place after all. 

“We’re really promoting that. To be able to get people vaccinated because we’ve worked so hard to get ready. Get everything planned. There’s always hiccups. There’s always gonna be that… but it won’t be because of COVID this year,” Pruitt said. “People are happy. Very little complaining. I mean it’s been great. Come out and join us. Enjoy the food, we’ve got all kinds of food here. We’ll give you the best experience we can give ya.”

All three vaccines, Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson are offered at the Shelby County Health Department’s booth below the grandstands from 3-9p.m. through Saturday night.

If you receive one of the vaccine’s which requires a second dose at a later date, the county health department says visit ourshot.in.gov to schedule your second dose.

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