First published January 13, 2021 in TheStatehouseFile.com
Hoosiers 70 and older can now schedule appointments to receive coronavirus vaccinations.
Those 70 and older account for 7% of Hoosiers, 23% of COVID-19 hospitalizations, and 26% of COVID-19 deaths in the state.
This additional age group comes after nearly 86,000 Hoosiers aged 80 and older scheduled appointments within days of eligibility, according to the state health department.
Gov. Eric Holcomb said the overwhelming response is like a “gold rush” but for the vaccines.
“We’re taking a fact-based approach to moving ourselves not just forward but through this to the other side,” Holcomb said. “And we’re seeking partnerships and building them, growing them, and extending them on a day in and day out basis, and so the only thing that I would want more of is inventory.”
Nearly 220,000 Indiana residents have received their first dose, and more than 40,000 have received both doses.
Nearly 455,000 Hoosiers have scheduled appointments to receive a vaccine by the end of this month. More than 59,700 people 70 to 79 registered for their appointments just today.
Dr. Lindsay Weaver, chief medical officer for the Indiana Department of Health, said the department will be deploying mobile vaccination units to long-term care facilities that are not part of the federal pharmacy program and will be redeploying them for mass vaccination clinics in counties across the state in the coming weeks.
Dr. Kristina Box, Indiana Department of Health commissioner, said once vaccines are offered to Hoosiers 60 and older, 22.5% of the state’s population will be vaccinated. That age group accounts for 64% of all state COVID-19 hospitalizations and 93% of deaths.
In regard to those waiting for their vaccine, the Indiana Department of Health’s goal is to expand eligibility as quickly as supplies and resources allow. In the meantime, it asks for patience.
“I know how hard it is to wait your turn,” Box said. “We all want a sense of normality, and the vaccine will help to get us there. But we’re in a numbers game and still there are not enough doses available in Indiana to provide a vaccine to every Hoosier who wants one.”
Despite pushback from some groups, such as younger people with serious comorbidities, who have been left out of early access to the vaccine, Box affirmed her belief that the system in place is the right approach to reduce deaths and hospitalizations for those within the most vulnerable populations.
“So please stay the course, don’t let down your guard. We will get to the other side of this pandemic,” Box said. “We just need more time.”
Sydney Byerly is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.