39% of eligible Hoosiers have been fully vaccinated, received a first dose or signed up to make an appointment, Gov. Eric Holcomb said in what he said might be his last weekly COVID-19 briefing Wednesday.
Indiana opened up eligibility requirements for Hoosiers aged 16 and up Wednesday morning.
Holcomb said with the expansion of eligibility, 5.4 million Hoosiers are eligible to get the vaccine.
Indiana State Health Commissioner Dr. Kristina Box said 96,000 appointments were made as of noon Wednesday.
Box said the state removed the eligibility criteria requiring proof of residency at vaccination appointments. This will make it easier for students who may have permanent residences out of state but go to college in Indiana to get the vaccine, she said.
“We want to remove any barriers,” Box said. “Age is now the only eligibility requirement to get the vaccine.”
People from outside the state would be able to come to Indiana to get the vaccine hypothetically, Box said.
“Ideally, they would get vaccinated in their home state,” Box said. “We get doses allocated based on population.
Box said it is crucial for younger people to get the vaccine if they want to keep older loved ones safe, reduce infections and go to bars, restaurants and concerts safely.
“A lot of our young people want their lives back,” Box said. “And they will continue to improve the environment around their loved ones,”
Box’s advice comes as the state positivity rate increased from 3.3% last week to 3.9% as of noon Wednesday.
Holcomb plans to change Indiana’s mask mandate to a mask advisory on April 6. Bloomington Mayor John Hamilton announced Friday that Monroe County will continue to require masks.
Box said she is concerned about the COVID-19 variants being spread in Indiana. She said the more COVID-19 infections there are, the higher the risk for mutations to spread is. Box said 137 cases of the United Kingdom variant, two cases of the South Africa variant, one case of the Brazil variant and 27 cases of the California variant have been identified in Indiana.
“Keeping our number of infections down is the most important thing we can do to prevent the spread,” Box said.
Dr. Lindsay Weaver, chief medical officer for the Indiana State Department of Health, said the ISDH is working with large businesses and universities to distribute additional doses for businesses with more than 1,000 employees and six universities around the state, including IU.
Weaver said the ISDH’s goal is to provide at least the first dose of the vaccine to students before they leave campus at the end of spring semester. She said the ISDH has allocated 60,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine for this purpose.
“While we might not be able to provide both doses, every student will receive a vaccine card so they can get vaccinated in their home state,” Weaver said.
Weaver said she hopes all young people will get the vaccine, despite younger populations being at reduced risk of hospitalization or death from COVID-19.
“Low risk doesn’t mean no risk,” Weaver said.
Vaccine appointments can be made at ourshot.in.gov or by calling 211.