Indiana Daily Student

Indiana residents age 70 and older now eligible for COVID-19 vaccine

<p>Gov. Eric Holcomb speaks Wednesday during a weekly virtual press conference giving updates about the COVID-19 pandemic. Holcomb said the state predicts 455,000 residents will receive the vaccine by the end of January.</p>

Gov. Eric Holcomb speaks Wednesday during a weekly virtual press conference giving updates about the COVID-19 pandemic. Holcomb said the state predicts 455,000 residents will receive the vaccine by the end of January.

Gov. Eric Holcomb announced Wednesday that Indiana residents over the age of 70 can now register to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.

Holcomb said more than 40,000 residents over 70 have scheduled their appointments to receive the vaccine and more than 100,000 people have signed up to receive it in the last five days. Of the population in Indiana, 12% is over 70, and this group accounts for 42% of hospitalizations and 78% of deaths due to COVID-19, Holcomb said.

“This gives us confidence that the vaccine is getting to where it is intended to be,” Holcomb said.

The state reported 3,686 new cases of COVID-19 and 59 new deaths Wednesday, bringing Indiana’s COVID-19 death toll to more than 9,100. The overall positivity rate is 16.1%. The state’s dashboard is updated daily at noon.

[Related: Monroe County opens vaccine clinic at convention center Jan. 11] 

Indiana State Health Commissioner Dr. Kristina Box said there has been an increase of cases in Indiana in the past week, according to the state’s COVID-19 color-coded county map. While 35 counties were orange last week, indicating a medium spread of the virus, 19 of the 92 counties are orange today. The remaining 73 counties are red, indicating a high spread of cases, compared to 57 last week.

“We cannot afford to abandon those measures that are proven to reduce transmission of the virus,” Box said. “We will get to the other side of the pandemic.”

Indiana Chief Medical Officer Dr. Lindsay Weaver reported 219,885 people have received their first dose of the vaccine, and 40,281 had received their second dose in Indiana as of Wednesday. This group includes healthcare workers and long-term care residents. Weaver said the state estimates 455,000 residents will be vaccinated by the end of January.

Weaver requested patience from the public, telling Hoosiers not to get discouraged if they are having trouble scheduling an appointment due to high demand.

“We all have the same goal,” Weaver said. “That every Hoosier who wants a vaccine can receive one.”

[Related: IU to distribute COVID-19 vaccine to students, faculty, staff for free]

Dr. Daniel Rusyniak, Indiana chief medical officer for family and social services, is heading a program that will bring vaccinations to more long-term care facilities in the state. Rusyniak reported Wednesday more than 1,300 facilities had signed up for the program.

The program is a partnership with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the pharmacy chains CVS, Walgreens and PharmScript to provide on-site vaccines to residents and staff at long-term care facilities. The goal is to get doses of the vaccine to vulnerable populations and reduce outbreaks.

Weaver said vulnerable populations are primarily identified by age. Box said once the vaccine is available to those over 60, 22.5% of Indiana residents will be eligible to receive the vaccine. Residents over 60 account for 64.1% of all hospitalizations and 93.3% of deaths, Box said.

Box said the state receives approximately 79,000 doses of the vaccine each week and is unsure when there will be an increase in weekly doses. How quickly the vaccine can be distributed to other populations depends on the number of vaccines the state of Indiana receives weekly from the federal government.

Any Indiana resident who is eligible to get a vaccine can register online or call 2-1-1 if they do not have internet access or need assistance.

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