State health leaders urge unvaccinated to get COVID-19 shot, especially pregnant women

Coronavirus

INDIANAPOLIS — Even as COVID-19 cases are showing signs of decreasing, state health leaders encourage unvaccinated Hoosiers to receive their vaccine.

State Health Commissioner Dr. Kristina Box said there has been a three-week decline in COVID cases, but many hospitals still remain full of COVID patients. The majority (95%) of those that are hospitalized are unvaccinated.

“Out of 315 that were in the ICU as of September 5, only 9 were fully vaccinated against COVID-19.” Box continued, saying out of the 246 Hoosiers who have died during the week of September 19, 28 were fully immunized.

Box also directed a message for pregnant women, urging them to get the vaccine to help avoid the risks the virus can bring to them.

“I’m especially concerned about our pregnant individuals across the state,” said Dr. Box, saying the risk for being put on a ventilator is nearly three times as high and being put in the ICU is twice as high for COVID patients who are pregnant.

Contracting COVID-19 while pregnant increases the chance of stillbirths and pre-term.

“The COVID-19 vaccine is safe to get if you are pregnant. Please do not put yourself or your baby at unnecessary risk,” Dr. Box pleaded.

People can once again get the COVID-19 vaccine at a clinic set up at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The two-dose Moderna and Pfizer vaccines as well as the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine will be available. The flu shot will also be administered. The clinic will be open from noon to 8 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays until October 30. You can schedule an appointment here.

Last week, the state opened Pfizer’s COVID-19 booster to certain individuals including those who work in healthcare, public transit, correctional facilities, and more. Hoosiers 65 years and older and people with some underlying conditions are also eligible.

“You do not need an appointment to get a booster,” reminded Chief Medical Officer Dr. Lindsay Weaver.

More than 35,000 people in Indiana have received a third dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

“The boosters provide an extra level of protection to our most vulnerable Hoosiers, but the best protection is your first dose,” said Weaver.

According to the state’s vaccine dashboard, more than 3,254,000 Hoosiers have been fully vaccinated. That’s about 55.5% of Indiana’s population that is at least 12 years old.

Dr. Lindsay Weaver, chief medical officer for the Indiana Department of Health, said she’s concerned that just a third of kids ages 12 to 15 are fully vaccinated.

“We weekly communicate with school nurses and give them avenues on how they can communicate to parents in their community as well as talking to pediatricians and providers,” Dr. Weaver said.

It’s one of the issues state health officials discussed this week with White House vaccinations coordinator Dr. Bechara Choucair during his visit to Indianapolis.

“We have to continue to do everything we can to protect kids, and equally as important to be able to protect kids who aren’t yet eligible,” Dr. Choucair said.

As Pfizer prepares to submit data to the federal government on its vaccine for kids ages 5 to 11, Dr. Choucair urges parents to trust the approval process by the FDA and CDC.

“It’s an open, transparent, public process that anybody can watch, anybody can follow, and once we have a determination by the FDA and the CDC, we should all feel very confident,” he said.

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