TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTHI) - Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb held his weekly COVID-19 press conference on Wednesday—this after he addressed the state on Tuesday evening.
Governor Holcomb says by the end of Wednesday, Indiana will have fully vaccinated its 1,000,000th person. That’s 19% of Hoosiers who are eligible. He and Indiana State Health Commissioner Dr. Kristina Box both outlined how the state is continuing to move forward with its COVID-19 vaccination efforts.
As a refresher from Tuesday evening, the statewide mask mandate will become an advisory on April 6th. Masks will still be required in state buildings, vaccination and testing sites, as well as schools.
COVID-19 eligibility will open up to Hoosiers 16 and older on March 31st. Capacity decisions will fall to local health departments and governments beginning April 6th. Schools will continue under the current COVID-19 restrictions and guidelines for the remainder of the school year.
Governor Holcomb says the mass vaccination clinics have been very successful. Starting April 1st, the state will have a mass vaccination clinic at Indianapolis Motor Speedway for 16 days. Governor Holcomb and Dr. Box say it will allow full vaccination for 96,000 Hoosiers. It’s important to note that mass vaccination sites only offer the Johnson and Johnson vaccine. That one-dose vaccine is only for individuals 18 and older.
“We are not just on the road to recovery, we are onward and upward,” Governor Holcomb said.
“Opening vaccine up to every eligible Hoosier is a huge undertaking, but it’s an important step that will bring us closer to the finish line in this pandemic,” Dr. Box agreed.
Dr. Box says nearly 1.7 million Hoosiers have received at least one dose of a vaccine. She outlined what state health officials are tracking as we move forward with vaccination efforts.
She says that the state is moving in the right direction, and it’s extremely encouraging that on March 31st Hoosiers 16 and up will become eligible for the vaccine. However, nearly 1.4 million Hoosiers under 16 aren’t eligible for a vaccine. That’s due to the three vaccines not being authorized for those younger than 16.
“While I hope that the current clinical trials in children ages 12 to 17 result in an expansion of eligibility for those groups sometime this summer, it’s unrealistic to think that children under 12 will be eligible for a vaccine for quite some time,” Dr. Box explained.
That’s why she says it’s imperative to get vaccinated if you are an adult—to protect Indiana’s youth. She also recommends that Hoosiers still wear masks. This not only protects vulnerable populations from COVID-19, but flu numbers are extremely low as a result of this protective measure.
Finally, Dr. Box says the state is receiving 38,000 doses of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine this week, and there’s been an overall increase in vaccine shipments.
“Please be patient,” Dr. Box concluded, “There will be a vaccine for everyone who wants one. To make sure that that is sooner rather than later, be sure to be willing to get the first vaccine you can get.”
When allocating doses of vaccine to Hoosier counties, Dr. Box says the state looks at county population, current vaccine inventory, and the number of vaccine clinics in the county.