State health officials said Indiana would grant COVID-19 vaccination eligibility to Hoosiers age 60-64 as soon as the week of Feb. 22, assuming weather allows and vaccination clinics are able to successfully reschedule appointments that were canceled the week prior due to in inclement weather.
More than 80 clinics across the state closed the week of Feb. 15 because of inclement weather, forcing vaccination clinics to reschedule appointments.
“To further complicate matters this week, we have experienced delays in vaccine shipments due to the bad weather,” Indiana State Dept. of Health Chief Medical Officer Dr. Lindsay Weaver said during a Feb. 17 virtual press briefing. “We have not yet received our Moderna vaccines for this week. Therefore, unfortunately, more appointments will need to be rescheduled over the next couple of days. We have worked with those clinics to reschedule their patients as quickly as possible. This includes adding new appointments and adding extra days to the clinics’ schedules to ensure there are no unnecessary delays to getting vaccines in arms.”
Weaver, assuring Indiana residents, said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports second doses of the Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines are as effective up to 42 days after the first vaccination. The two vaccines are administered a minimum of 28 and 21 days apart, respectively. If a resident is unable to reschedule an appointment for a second dose within 42 days, it is recommended they still schedule an appointment for a second dose and not restart the two-dose vaccination process, Weaver said.
The state’s decision to grant eligibility to Hoosiers age 60-64 once vaccination shipments resume followed news that states will receive a slight increase in weekly allotments of COVID-19 vaccine from the federal government.
But though states expect to receive a small increase in COVID-19 vaccine allotments in coming weeks, state health officials said it would likely not be enough to grant vaccine eligibility to Hoosiers age 50-59 and residents who meet criteria for five specific comorbidities: They said more vaccines are needed.
State health officials reported Feb. 17 that Indiana has received more than 1.3 million doses of vaccine. Of those, 172 doses have been unable to be administered due to broken vials, broken syringes or because they have been accounted for.
“Vaccine will continue to remain a precious resource for some time,” Weaver said. “But we are confident our approach will protect those who are most vulnerable and put Indiana in a strong position to emerge from this pandemic.”
During the Feb. 17 press briefing, Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb said he wants to see teachers vaccinated, but state health officials have not disclosed when they plan to grant eligibility to educators and school staff.
State health officials have adopted an age-based vaccination approach, opting to inoculate the state’s oldest residents. The approach prevents the most COVID-19 deaths and hospitalizations, they argue.
But Indiana Democrats and others have criticized for weeks the state’s decision to not move teachers to the front of the vaccination queue.
“Let’s be clear: The Biden-Harris Administration, the Centers of Disease Control, the Indiana Democratic Party, and teachers unions across the state have all called for our teachers to be ‘priority’ for COVID-19 vaccines,” Drew Anderson, communications director for the Indiana Democratic Party stated. “Governor Eric Holcomb, however, has consistently failed to make teachers a priority for these vaccines. There’s a difference, and it’s a shame Holcomb is not owning up to the fact that he does not value Indiana’s educators.”
Indiana has received approximately $448 million in emergency rental assistance and utility/home-energy assistance funding through a new COVID-19 relief bill, which the state has used to create the Emergency Rental Assistance program.
The program is designed to assist households that are unable to pay rent and utilities due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Eligible households can receive up to 12 months of rental assistance and utility/home-energy assistance, including past-due rent and future months’ rental assistance.
An eligible household is defined by the U.S. Dept. of Treasury as a renter household in which one or more people qualify for unemployment, has experienced a reduction in household income, demonstrates a risk of experiencing homelessness or has a household income at or below 80 percent of the area median income.
Once the state receives revised guidance from the U.S. Dept. of Treasury, it will begin accepting applications, state officials said. Updates are available at IndianaHousingNow.org. Renter households in Elkhart, Hamilton, Lake, St. Joseph and Marion counties, and the City of Fort Wayne must apply though their local program and are not eligible to apply through the state program.