TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTHI) - Wednesday marks the first day that any Hoosier 16 years and older can get a COVID-19 vaccine. 5.4 million Hoosiers can now sign up for a vaccine. Indiana State Health Commissioner Dr. Kristina Box says nearly 100,000 Hoosiers made appointments on Wednesday before noon. She did mention a couple of things that you should know as eligibility has expanded so greatly.
Dr. Box says age is the only eligibility requirement to get a vaccine. The state has removed the requirement of having proof of residency to get a vaccine. She says this will accommodate students at universities or employees around the state who are not from Indiana, however, spend a significant amount of time in Indiana. She says the state wants to remove any barrier in the way of getting people vaccinated.
Additionally, if you are 16 or 17 years old you can only receive the Pfizer vaccine. The state asks you to bring a parent or guardian to your appointment if possible. If you cannot, Dr. Box says most locations will accept written consent or verbal consent by phone.
Dr. Box says Wednesday was a day that Indiana has long been waiting for, but it isn’t time to let up.
“COVID is still very much present in our state and I encourage everyone who is eligible to sign up for a vaccine as soon as possible and to continue to wear a mask and take precautions,” Dr. Box said.
Chief Medical Officer at the Indiana State Health Department Dr. Lindsay Weaver says the state expects 405,000 first and second doses of vaccine to come in this week. She spoke about the state’s ongoing process to get vaccines to large businesses and universities quickly.
Dr. Weaver says the state first is focused on businesses with 1,000 or more employees. About a dozen businesses across Indiana are launching their own vaccine clinics. The state has allocated 24,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine to distribute to those businesses.
Additionally, six college campuses across the state will begin vaccinations next week for students and staff. Dr. Weaver says the goal is to provide at least the first dose of vaccine to students before they leave campus. The state is allocating 60,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine for this purpose.
“While we might not be able to provide both doses to students before they leave campus, every student who receives a vaccination will get their card so that they can then use it in their home community or state to get the vaccine.” Dr. Weaver explained.
Lastly, Dr. Weaver shared news regarding the Pfizer vaccine for younger Hoosiers. Clinical trials of 12 to 15-year-olds have found the vaccine to be 100% effective in preventing COVID-19.
“Pfizer reported that it expects to seek emergency use authorization from the FDA for these populations soon,” Dr. Weaver said, “Our hope is that we will have yet another age group that will be eligible to be vaccinated by this summer.”
Dr. Weaver says currently 80% of the state’s population is within a five-mile radius of a vaccine clinic. That will increase as more mass vaccination sites and mobile vaccine units continue to be set.