The COVID-19 vaccine, previously available locally only to first reponders, medical professionals and Jefferson County residents over the age of 80, is now available to those age 70 and over.

Jefferson County Health Department followed a state directive Wednesday and issued a statement that the vaccination program has been expanded to include the younger age group. However, vaccine supply remains limited and all vaccinations are still by appointment only at the health department located at 715 Green Road in Madison.

Tammy Monroe, JCHD administrator, told member of the Jefferson County Council Tuesday night that she was anticipating an expansion of the vaccination program on Wednesday and that other expansions will be phased in as supply allows and as various demographic groups have complerted vaccination.

The vaccines became available to Indiana residents 80 and older last Friday following the initial rollout of doses for Indiana health care workers and nursing home residents and staffers in December. Nearly 86,000 Hoosiers in that age group had scheduled appointments to receive the free COVID-19 vaccines as of 4 p.m. Sunday, according to the state health department.

Health officials said last week that they planned to start offering vaccinations in the coming weeks next to those 70 and older and then 60 and older.

Monroe said distribution of the vaccine so far has gone “super, super well” ... “really smooth” as JCHD was allotted about 100 doses per week. She said the number of doses the department can inject next week is scheduled to increase to 500 as well as for the two weeks after that but some of those doses will go to residents who were earlier vaccinated because the shot must be delivered in two doses three weeks apart and the first groups to receive the shot will be coming due for their final injections.

She said so far there has been plenty of staff and volunteers to handle the injections but as more vaccine arrives weekly she may need to seek more health care volunteers or hire temporary employees to assist with the innoculations but that the state has allocated money to help with the process.

Asked if there have been any adverse reactions to the vaccinations so far, Monroe said there have not but that JCHD has all the required emergency medication needed for such a reaction and the staff is trained and ready to administer that medication in the event of a negative outcome.

To register for a COVID-19 vaccination appointment, county residents should visit www.ourshot.in.gov or call 2-1-1 and make sure to select the vaccine link and not the testing link. No walk-ins will be available at this time.

Meanwhile, Jefferson County had 19 new COVID-19 cases through Tuesday with a total of 2,406 since the pandemic began. There were no new deaths and the death toll stood at 38.

All but 20 of Indiana’s 96 counties remained in the most critical “red” zone — including every county south of Indianapolis except for Bartholomew, Decatur, Floyd, Monroe, Perry and Vigo counties — in terms of community infection.