INDIANAPOLIS — State officials announced Wednesday that vaccine allocation would prioritize those most at risk for hospitalization and death from COVID-19, starting with those ages 80 and older.
On Friday, the ourshot.in.gov site will open up vaccination reservations to those 80 and older, followed by those 70-79 and then 60-69.
“About 93% of the deaths in Indiana and 64% of the hospitalizations from this virus occur in the age group of (those) 60 and older,” Gov. Eric Holcomb said during his weekly COVID-19 update. “(But) we have to continue to practice good public health measures. Vigilance is just as key as the vaccine, so one doesn’t replace the other.”
Kris Box, the state health commissioner, said that focusing on older Hoosiers would help keep Hoosiers out of hospitals and stop the “heartbreaking rate” of deaths.
“Rest assured that an incredible team of experts has looked closely at Indiana’s data to determine the best way to achieve these goals while our vaccine supply remains limited,” Box said. “From the beginning of our planning for the vaccine rollout, we knew that our plans would evolve based on the availability of the vaccine.”
Lindsay Weaver, the chief medical officer of the state health department, reported that more than 300,000 Hoosiers would receive their first shot of the two-dose vaccine by the end of the month.
Weaver said the state anticipated moving onto other age groups by February, but that would depend on whether the state receives the 78,000 doses it anticipates each week.
“For the many Hoosiers who are still asking ‘When can I get my shot?’ Please know that our goal is to get a vaccine to everyone who wants one as quickly as possible,” Weaver said.
Seniors or their family members can make their appointments online or by calling 211 and requesting assistance. The state will also send mailers to those eligible.
Box warned that, with over 1.5 million Hoosiers aged 60 and older, there wasn’t enough vaccine to open up to other age ranges.
“We don’t have that many doses or expect that many so we realistically are trying to just parse this out… to make sure that our most vulnerable population does get vaccinated,” Box said.
Weaver said that they didn’t want to open up as a first-come, first-serve, similar to states like Florida, where elderly residents camped out for hours to get the vaccine.
“We don’t have the weather here in Indiana to be able to tolerate that so we are really happy about our process,” Weaver said.
For health care workers and others who’ve already contracted the virus, Weaver asked those Hoosiers to wait 90 days after they became eligible to give precedence to those without antibodies. Since many in long-term care facilities had already been infected, less of the vaccine has been allotted to those Hoosiers.
Of the state’s 534 nursing homes, 505 already had their vaccines scheduled through the federal program utilizing CVS and Walgreens.
Dan Rusyniak, the chief medical officer of the Family and Social Services Administration, said that 70% of long-term care staffers indicate they would be comfortable taking the vaccine “at some point.”