The Journal Gazette
Friday, January 22, 2021 1:00 am

Vaccine focus on those 70, older

State not ready to target younger Hoosiers yet

NIKI KELLY | The Journal Gazette

INDIANAPOLIS – Indiana is standing pat on its vaccination schedule – still focusing on those in their 70s a week after opening up appointments for that group of elderly Hoosiers.

State Health Commissioner Dr. Kris Box said Thursday the limited supply the state gets from the federal government – about 78,000 doses a week – limits the state from moving forward to the next group.

But when the state does, it will be those between the ages of 65 and 70. Originally it was supposed to be anyone in their 60s, but Box announced that change during the weekly COVID-19 briefing.

The number of Hoosiers ages 65 to 70 – about 350,000 – is about the same as the number of Hoosiers in their 70s.

There is no timeline for moving forward.

“With high demand comes the need to level set expectations,” Box said. “We are limited in how quickly we can expand vaccine eligibility by the amount of vaccine at the federal level.”

Box also said three Hoosiers died sometime after getting the vaccine.

“Each case involved a patient with significant underlying conditions that were actively affecting their health at the time they received the vaccine,” she said.

Each death was investigated and reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“At this time there is no way to know if the vaccine played a role in these three deaths,” Box said. “These losses are tragic.”

But she noted that 362,000 Hoosiers have received their first doses of the vaccine with very few adverse outcomes. Another 87,000 Hoosiers have received both doses and are fully vaccinated.

Dr. Lindsay Weaver, chief medical officer for the Indiana State Department of Health, also said she is aware of the 2 million Hoosiers whose essential jobs require them to interact with the public and potentially be exposed every day. This was partially in reference to a push to have teachers immunized more quickly.

But she said the state will continue to focus on those with the highest risk of hospitalization and death – even if they have a low risk of exposure.

Indiana reported 3,733 new cases of COVID-19 Thursday and 64 new deaths. Allen County added 168 cases and no new deaths.

But Gov. Eric Holcomb and Box pointed to a number of indicators that are improving, noting fewer counties in the red zone for community spread; a lower positivity rates and fewer hospitalizations.

The state's current executive order on restrictions was set to expire Sunday, and Holcomb said he will extend it one week while reviewing current trends and trajectories.

Gathering restrictions have helped the numbers, and also the fact that the holidays have passed.

Holcomb credited people with practicing personal responsibility. He finished the briefing with four words – “faster immunization, slower spread.”

New cases

Adams: 12

Allen: 168

DeKalb: 28

Huntington: 19

Kosciusko: 37

LaGrange: 3

Noble: 22

Steuben: 17 (1 death)

Wabash: 21

Wells: 7 (3)

Whitley: 19

Sources: Indiana State Department of Health, Allen County Department of Health, DeKalb County Health Department

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