INDIANAPOLIS – Gov. Eric Holcomb announced Wednesday that Indiana will start vaccinating Hoosiers on Friday who are 80 or older with a goal of vaccinating everyone aged 60 or older in “weeks not months.”
The state is focusing on age categories because people 60 and older account for 93% of the state's COVID-19 deaths and 64% of those hospitalized with the novel coronavirus.
Indiana has about 1.5 million Hoosiers age 60 or older. Until now the state has been focusing on frontline health care workers and those in long-term care facilities.
“We really would like to move through this as quickly as possible,” said Dr. Lindsay Weaver, chief medical officer for the Indiana State Department of Health. “I hope that there is such good uptake that it's not just a couple of weeks. We're really looking to February where we are going to be expanding it. If it comes sooner, it comes sooner.”
The first group will be 80 and up, followed by those in their 70s then those in their 60s.
Getting the vaccine is voluntary and the exact timeline depends on how many people step forward and the supply to the state. Right now, the state is projected to get about 78,000 doses a week. It takes two doses to be fully vaccinated.
“By taking an age-focused approach we can accomplish two tasks – protecting those at greatest risk for adverse consequences like death and hospitalization and then reaching older workers who are more likely to have comorbidities,” State Health Commissioner Dr. Kris Box said.
The state will have at least one vaccine clinic in every county with 148 clinics statewide. Fifty-five are at hospitals; 91 at local health departments; and two pharmacy locations where there is not a hospital.
Hoosiers who are 80 or older can go to ourshot.in.gov to sign up starting at 9 a.m. Friday. Postcards are also being sent next week to elderly Hoosiers. And the state is working with the AARP and the Area Agencies on Aging to reach out.
Individuals age 80 and older account for less than 4% of the state's population but represent more than 19% of the hospitalizations and more than half of the COVID-19 deaths in the state.
Older Hoosiers in long-term care facilities can get vaccinated through a CVS/Walgreens partnership since many are not mobile.
Vaccinations are free and they are available to anyone living or working in Indiana. Citizenship is not a requirement. Hoosiers can also call 2-1-1 to request assistance with registration and even transportation.
Indiana so far has received 350,000 doses of the vaccine and administered 140,000 doses. That is slower than some other states, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The state announced 6,214 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday and 80 new deaths.
Box said 600 people have died in the last week, and the state is seeing a post-holiday surge in positivity rate.
The state's health department updated its weekly risk scores with 57 counties in red – 12 more than last week. The rest are in orange. None are in yellow or blue.
Allen County remains in orange.
Allen: 275 (2 deaths)
Huntington: 43 (1)
Kosciusko: 92 (1)
LaGrange: 22 (2)
Steuben: 64 (8)
Whitley: 38 (1)
Sources: Indiana State Department of Health, Allen County Department of Health, DeKalb County Health Department