We're Building A Better Tri-State Together
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
0000017c-83f8-d4f8-a77d-b3fd0d9f0000In 2020, WNIN, the Center for Innovation and Change at the University of Evansville and ¿Qué Pasa, Midwest? collaborated on a seven month research and reporting project to find stories of the coronavirus pandemic in seven Midwestern states.Students from two UE ChangeLab classes provided substantial data and reporting resources for this project. Explore their work here and the entire CBC series below. COVID Between the Coasts is an ongoing project. If you know of a Midwestern story of the pandemic that has not been told, let us know.0000017c-83f8-d4f8-a77d-b3fd0da00000CBC: Binge Listen to Season OneThe reporting was research driven. Dr. Darrin Weber and his fall semester ChangeLab class students, Maya Frederick, Timmy Miller, Ethan Morlock and Pearl Muensterman gathered, cleaned and created visualizations of demographic and coronavirus data in our selected region. Their work culminated in an extensive data visualization of the coronavirus progression in our seven state project area. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=smvmyHHNNEI" target="_blank">Learn more about the app and research.Full size Mobile0000017c-83f8-d4f8-a77d-b3fd0da00001

Following The Shot: How One Dose Of Moderna Vaccine Made It Into An Arm In Southern Indiana

Steve Burger

Archie Thomas is a church organist who grew up attending the Greater St. James Missionary Baptist Church in Evansville, Indiana. He still plays here occasionally.

But on this warm spring day, the 49-year-old is visiting for another reason — to get his first shot of the COVID-19 vaccine.

“I do have a pre-existing condition — diabetes — so I thought it would be in my best interest to get vaccinated,” he said.

When Thomas learned about the popup clinic at the southern Indiana church, he talked his mother Elizabeth into going with him to be vaccinated. She took his picture to record the big moment.

Nearly 110 million Americans have been vaccinated against COVID-19. And delivering each dose requires a complex chain of events. This is the story of one of those doses — and how it ended up in Thomas’ left arm.

Archie Thomas recently received his first dose of the Moderna vaccine. (Steve Burger)

That dose of Moderna vaccine is from lot number 017B21A. I wanted to trace its path, so I pieced together information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the vaccine distributor and health officials.

Moderna wouldn’t say where this dose was made, but it could have come from the company’s big plant outside Boston — or a partner facility.

Next, it’s shipped to McKesson Corp., which handles distribution. The company has four warehouses where workers assemble kits of supplies and then wait for a shipping order from the CDC.

That comes once Indiana State Health Commissioner Dr. Kristina Box requests the release of part of the state’s weekly vaccine allotment.

“We try to make sure that that vaccine is already designated to go to specific sites … so we’re not trying to redistribute vaccine all across the state,” Box said when I asked her about it at a news conference.

vaccine journey (Infogram)
In the case of the Moderna vaccine lot I’m tracing, that specific site is the Greater St. James Church, which is hosting a clinic staffed by the local health department.

Which brings us to the Vanderburgh County Health Department in Evansville, where McKesson has shipped Lot 017B21A. Clinical and Outreach Division Director Lynn Herr took me into the secure vaccine storage area.

The stand-up freezer is one of several holding various vaccines. And because Moderna’s vaccine has to be stored at an extremely stable temperature, a timer keeps the door from being opened too often.

“One day prior to one of our clinics, the lot numbers that we’re going to use, we pull out of the freezer and it moves to a refrigerator,” Herr said.

So now Moderna lot 017B21A is ready for the clinic at the Greater St. James recreation center.

Credit Steve Burger / WNIN-FM
Archie Thomas' mother Elizabeth takes an image of the big event.

It’s the final step that is the most difficult — getting people to sign up for the vaccine.

Thomas admits he had some concerns.

“I did at first, but the church I attend in Owensboro, Kentucky — Mount Calvary — Pastor Andre Bradley, he had a medical professional come and talk to us and give us some information about it, so I was a little more at ease,” Thomas said.

When asked about the importance of the church’s role, he added, “Being a faith-based Christian, I think it’s good to have all kind of information. These are things the church needs to talk about so they can be very proactive concerning health.”

That hesitancy continues to be a serious problem across America. The Vanderburgh County Health Department planned for more than 300 people at this clinic. But it delivered just 11 doses.

Because of the low response, Greater St. James clinic organizers canceled an event to deliver the second doses of the Moderna vaccine. Thomas and the others will go directly to the health department for their doses.

Related Content