TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTHI) - Indiana health officials unveiled the next steps in the COVID-19 vaccination process during Governor Eric Holcomb’s weekly press conference on Wednesday.
More than 258,000 Hoosiers are fully vaccinated for COVID-19. Currently, the state is receiving 100,000 doses of the vaccine per week. However, Indiana State Health Commissioner Dr. Kristina Box says because of limited supplies, the state will keep the current eligibility for Hoosiers at 65 years of age and older for now.
This is so the state can fully analyze the number of second dose appointments against the existing and projected supply of the vaccine. The goal is to have all second doses covered before expanding eligibility further.
Chief Medical Officer Dr. Lindsay Weaver says the state plans to include Hoosiers between 60 and 65 as soon as possible. She says the Indiana Vaccine Advisory Committee met this week to discuss the next steps after reaching that age group.
After the state has vaccinated the appropriate proportion of this age group, Indiana plans to expand eligibility to two additional age groups: Hoosiers 50 to 59 years old, and Hoosiers less than 50 years of age who suffer from certain comorbidities.
“I want to remind Hoosiers that our original vaccination plan had outlined that after vaccinating phase 1A, which was our healthcare workers and first responders, that we would vaccinate individuals who are at particular risk of severe illness or death associated with COVID-19 disease based on the latest evidence-based criteria,” Dr. Weaver explained, “That is exactly what we are doing.”
Hoosiers 50 and older only make up 35% of the state’s population, but they account for 97% of COVID-19 deaths. Additionally, Dr. Weaver says the state is targeting 51,000 Hoosiers with specific health conditions; Conditions that put them at a four to ten times more likely risk of death if they were to be infected with COVID-19.
This includes Hoosiers who are active dialysis patients, who have Down syndrome, who have undergone post-solid organ transplants, sickle cell disease patients, and people who are actively being treated for cancer.
Dr. Weaver says data continues to drive vaccine eligibility decisions for the state of Indiana.
“We know that these categories do not include all Hoosiers who have conditions that could put them at greater risk from COVID-19, but we are working to expand to those most at risk as quickly as our vaccine supplies allow us to do so,” Dr. Weaver concluded.
Dr. Weaver says the state is hopeful that more vaccines will be on the way soon. Johnson and Johnson has applied for Emergency Use Authorization from the FDA. That meeting is scheduled for the end of February.