TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTHI) - Indiana state health officials held a press conference on Wednesday updating where the state is with COVID-19 vaccination efforts.
The big news out of Wednesday’s COVID-19 press conference is that Indiana will now be expanding their vaccination rollout efforts. Hoosiers 70 years of age and older can now begin making their COVID-19 vaccine appointments.
This age group now joins healthcare workers, first responders, and those 80 years of age and older. Indiana State Health Commissioner Dr. Kristina Box reiterated that this intentional approach of Indiana’s vaccine rollout is to save the lives of Hoosiers who are most at risk.
Hoosiers that are 70 and older account for only 12% of the state’s population but nearly 80% of COVID-19 deaths in Indiana. Once the vaccine is opened to Hoosiers 60 and older, Indiana will have targeted nearly a quarter of the state’s population. That population accounts for over 90% of the COVID-19 deaths in the state.
Dr. Box says this is why the age-focused approach is crucial here in Indiana. She says Indiana has accounted for nearly every dose of the vaccine. She says the state is not sitting on doses of vaccine and they never will.
Dr. Box says by making the vaccine available to Hoosiers age 70 and older on Wednesday, Indiana is continuing the mission of protecting its most vulnerable citizens.
“I know how hard it is to wait your turn. We all want a sense of normalcy and the vaccine will help to get us there,” Dr. Box said, “But we are in a numbers game and still there is not enough doses in Indiana to provide a vaccine to every Hoosier that wants one.”
Dr. Box says the state will expand the vaccination rollout in Indiana to additional groups as soon as they receive more doses from the federal government.
Indiana’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Lindsay Weaver says in the past week Indiana has nearly doubled who has received the COVID-19 vaccine.
As of Wednesday, nearly 220,000 Indiana residents have received their first dose of vaccine. The number of people who have received both doses, and are fully vaccinated, has risen from 585 last week to over 40,000 this week.
Nearly 455,000 Hoosiers have scheduled their vaccine appointments through the end of January. To date, nearly 100,000 Hoosiers aged 80 and up have scheduled their appointments for their first dose and almost 20,000 have scheduled for their second dose.
Over 59,000 Hoosiers between ages 70 and 79 made appointments for their first dose of vaccine on Wednesday alone.
Dr. Weaver says this week Indiana will ship an additional 20,000 doses of vaccine to local health departments. They will also be deploying mobile vaccination units to long-term care facilities.
Dr. Weaver says demand for vaccines in the state is incredibly high. She and Dr. Box both stress patience and say all vaccine allocations in Indiana are driven by data.
“We’ve been planning carefully for this moment for months. Throughout the process we have made clear, deliberate choices that are designed to avoid chaos and confusion,” Dr. Weaver explained, “We do not want to see lines of people waiting for hours outside for their vaccines, and offering a first-come-first-serve approach does not protect those most at risk for severe illness or death.”
Dr. Box says the state knows the federal government has said they will send more vaccines, but they haven’t been told when, how much, or if the doses are on their way.
Both officials encourage you to visit OurShot.IN.gov or to call 2-1-1 for more information or to schedule your vaccine appointment.