INDIANAPOLIS– Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb, State Health Commissioner Dr. Kristina Box and Chief Medical Officer Dr. Lindsay Weaver were joined by Marion County Public Health Department Director Dr. Virginia Caine for the update on the state’s COVID-19 response.
Holcomb said the big focus of Wednesday’s briefing is the vaccination effort, and announced Indiana will begin vaccinating Hoosiers by age. Hoosiers 80 and older can make appointments starting Friday.
The vaccination public awareness campaign will be called “It’s Our Shot, Hoosiers.” Dr. Box explained the vaccination campaigns are not “one-size-fits-all” approaches and that states can’t all do it the same way. Officials said vaccinations will be free, people must have their IDs with them and the state will schedule appointments through its website.
Dr. Weaver said the state has opened the vaccination effort to firefighters, EMS, police and Department of Correction officers. She said the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are the only ones currently available. The Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca candidates are “weeks” or “months” away from approval.
Dr. Virginia Caine is part of the advisory committee for vaccinations, and she believes the approach to start with people 80 and up, then 70s, then 60s is the correct approach. Caine said vaccinations are especially important because of the long-term effects of COVID-19, many of which we’re only beginning to understand.
Dr. Weaver believes that Indiana has the infrastructure in place for vaccinations and stated that she “would love” to have more of the COVID-19 vaccine.
Dr. Weaver added that Indiana doesn’t want to waste the vaccine and has communicated procedures with hospitals. She added it’s possible some vaccine may be moved around to reach those who need it most.
Dr. Box says Indiana doesn’t expect to “always have large amounts” of vaccine on hand, but that’s why the state is taking a deliberate approach to distributing it and focusing first on vulnerable, older Hoosiers. She added it will take a long time before all Hoosiers will have access to the vaccine.
Indiana has accounted for its initial allocation of the COVID-19 vaccine, said Dr. Weaver. She said Indiana wants to proceed with next phases of vaccinations as soon as possible and the state does not have to “hold” second doses because the federal government will ship second doses 21 days later.
Dr. Box said there have been few reports of strong adverse reactions to the vaccine so far. The state’s initial allocation of 350,000 doses has been administered or is scheduled to be administered.
Indiana will use an online scheduling system for the vaccine in hopes of avoiding long lines and wait times, especially during winter weather. Hoosiers 80 and older will receive a card from the state letting them know they’re eligible and can sign up to get the vaccine.