TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTHI) - Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb held his weekly COVID-19 press conference on Wednesday. State health officials were unanimous in expressing optimism regarding Indiana’s COVID-19 trajectory.
Governor Holcomb says Indiana’s first mass vaccination site went “flawlessly” at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway this past weekend. Over 16,000 Hoosiers received the Johnson and Johnson vaccine.
Indiana State Health Commissioner Dr. Kristina Box says this was a turning point for Indiana. The number of fully vaccinated Hoosiers surpassed the number of COVID-19 cases the state has seen since March 2020. Nearly 750,000 Hoosiers are fully vaccinated.
News 10 reported on Tuesday the updated CDC guidance for those who are fully vaccinated. Dr. Box says the state has issued new guidance for long-term care facilities as well.
If folks who live in those facilities leave and are back in less than 24 hours, they do not have to quarantine upon their return. In addition, facilities must allow visitation if their counties have positivity rates at 10% or below.
Indiana’s positivity rate is down to just 3.1% and Hoosier hospitalizations are down to just 75 per day. Governor Holcomb says it’s time to look ahead.
“I intend on, over the next week or two weeks, delivering a statewide address talking about where we were, where we are, and where we are going and we’ll look at all of our policies,” Holcomb said.
Chief Medical Officer with the Indiana Department of Health Dr. Lindsay Weaver says Indiana received their 2,000,000th dose of vaccine this week. She outlined Indiana’s plan moving forward with COVID-19 vaccine rollout efforts.
During the next three weeks, there will be three more mass vaccination sites open to Hoosiers. Dr. Weaver says the state will also deploy mobile vaccine units beginning on March 22nd. This is for Hoosier counties that are overwhelmed with vaccine appointments.
Over the past couple of weeks, the state has opened up vaccine eligibility to Hoosiers who have specific conditions putting them at a higher risk of death due to COVID-19. Dr. Weaver said on Wednesday that this list has expanded. The IDOH or FSSA is contacting healthcare providers of Hoosiers with the following conditions to arrange vaccination:
- Intellectual developmentally disabled individuals receiving home or community-based services
- Early childhood conditions that are carried into adulthood
- Cystic Fibrosis
- Muscular Dystrophy
- People born with severe heart defects, requiring specialized medical care
- Severe Type I diabetes, requiring hospitalization in the past year
- Phenylketonuria (PKU), Tay-Sachs, and other rare inherited metabolic disorders
- Epilepsy with continuing seizures, hydrocephaly, microcephaly, and other severe neurologic disorders
- Severe asthma, requiring hospitalization in the past year
- Alpha and beta-thalassemia
- Spina bifida
- Cerebral palsy
- People who require supplemental oxygen and/or tracheostomy
- Pulmonary fibrosis, Alpha-1 Antitrypsin
- Immunocompromised state (weakened immune system) from blood or bone marrow transplant, immune deficiencies, combined primary immunodeficiency disorder, HIV, daily use of corticosteroids, use of other immune weakening medicines, receiving tumor necrosis factor-alpha blocker, or rituximab
Additionally, starting on Monday eligibility in the State of Indiana will open statewide to educators and support staff. Dr. Weaver says this is per direction from the White House.
She says she is pleased with the direction Indiana is heading, and eligibility expansion is on the horizon.
“After we make this group eligible, we will continue to expand access to the vaccine as quickly as supplies permit,” Dr. Weaver concluded, “Our plan is to next open eligibility incrementally to the 40-49-year-old age group.”
Dr. Weaver says the state was notified that it would be receiving an additional 16,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine. However, Indiana is still unsure when another shipment of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine will become available. Those doses are being allotted to the mass vaccination sites in the coming weeks.