Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb announced last week that Hoosiers 80 and older are eligible to register for a free COVID-19 vaccine. Registration began Jan. 8. It is part of of Phase 1b of the state’s vaccination plan.
Hoosiers 80 and older can register at ourshot.in.gov.
Applicable residents are encouraged to register themselves on the site using their name and age. If an applicable resident does not have the means to register online, a family member can register them. Registered recipients must bring photo identification to their appointment. Residents also can call 211 to schedule an appointment on behalf of a senior family member.
“Distributing vaccine is not a one-size-fits-all process,” Indiana State Health Commissioner Dr. Kristina Box said during a Jan. 6 virtual press briefing. “By taking an age-focused approach, we can accomplish two tasks, protecting those at greatest risk for adverse consequences like death or hospitalization, and then reaching older workers who are more likely to have comorbidities.”
As of Jan. 6, 128,026 doses of the two-dose vaccinations had been administered in Indiana, and 585 second doses had been administered. According to the Indiana Dept. of Health, at least 300,000 Indiana residents had scheduled appointments to be vaccinated by the end of the month.
On Dec. 16, during Phase 1a, the state began vaccinating front-line health care workers. On Dec. 28, CVS and Walgreens began vaccinating residents and staff in long-term care facilities and in skilled nursing and assisted living facilities. Vaccinations also been offered to firefighters, EMS, law enforcement and Indiana Dept. of Corrections officers and other first responders.
States, which are free to determine a vaccination plan best suited for their residents, have adopted different approaches to immunizing residents. Some, such as Illinois, prioritize residents by occupation in Phase 1b, such as teachers and grocery store employees. Indiana officials, however, were advised to begin vaccinating its oldest population because vaccine doses are limited.
Residents 80 and older account for 3.8 percent of the state’s population but represent more than 19 percent of the hospitalizations and 52 percent of COVID-19 deaths in the state, according to the Indiana Dept. of Health.
When more doses are available, the state will begin vaccinating residents 70 and older and, in a later phase, residents 60 and older. A timetable hasn’t been established for when the groups can get vaccinations, but Indiana Chief Medical Officer Dr. Lindsay Weaver said during the briefing that state officials want to progress as quickly as possible.
Weaver said the number of doses the state receives in the coming weeks and months would determine when the next groups can receive vaccines, and that it’s unlikely the state would expand vaccine availability to other groups before February.
Should all residents 60 and older be immunized, 22.5 percent of all Hoosiers would be vaccinated, according to the IDH. People 60 and older account for 64.1 percent of all state COVID-19 hospitalizations and 93.3 percent of all COVID-19 deaths.
State health officials said at least one vaccination clinic will be available in every county, totaling 148 statewide, including 55 hospital sites, 91 local health departments and two pharmacy locations in Newton and Posey counties. Additional groups, such people with underlying health conditions, will be added as more vaccine doses become available, according to officials. Updates will be posted at ourshot.in.gov.
State health officials said the age-focused approach will save the most lives and reduce hospitalizations, thus easing the burden on the state’s health care system, which has been strained by a surge in COVID-19 cases since the Thanksgiving holiday. Health officials warn similar surges could be seen following the Christmas and New Year’s holidays.
COVID-19 cases in the state have retreated from previous record highs set after Thanksgiving, but state officials are concerned by the thousands of new cases reported each day. Nearly 3,000 residents were hospitalized as of Jan. 4.