What Hoosiers with underlying health conditions need to know before registering for vaccination

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INDIANAPOLIS — The Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH) expanded vaccine eligibility expanded for our vulnerable population. Tuesday morning, it announced Hoosiers 55 and older eligible to register for their shot.

The state also opened vaccine appointments to those with the following health conditions:

  • Active dialysis patients
  • Sickle cell disease patients
  • Down syndrome
  • Post-solid organ transplant

People who are actively in treatment (chemotherapy, radiation, surgery) for cancer now or in the last three months, or with active primary lung cancer or active hematologic cancers (lymphoma, leukemia and multiple myeloma)

Many of you came to us with questions, including how to sign up.

According to ISDH, you have to get a call or text from your healthcare provider. They will provide you with a unique link to register online, or you’ll call 211 if you aren’t internet savvy. 

Those who were able to get appointments say, they couldn’t be more excited.

“We’re the cancer couple,” said Chemotherapy Patient, Ranita McMurtrey.

Ranita and her husband Lon have been married for 46 years. Ranita just completed chemotherapy for breast cancer. And Lon has stage 4 melanoma currently undergoing immunotherapy.

“The populations that are particularly vulnerable are those with leukemia, lymphoma, multiple myeloma and lung cancer,” said IU Health Oncologist, Dr. Nasser Hanna.

Experts say they are the most vulnerable along with those who are elderly. 

“Data shows about 20% of people with cancer who are on active treatment and get COVID-19 infections die,” said Dr. Hanna.

That was Lon and Ranita’s biggest fear which is why they’ve been home for the past year. 

“Our friends and our family are really important, and we have not been able to be around them or see them at all in any way, shape, or form,” said Ranita.

Since they are both over the age of 65, they were eligible to register weeks ago, before Ranita completed chemo last week. They are scheduled to get their shot next week. 

“We received a text notification from IU Health on the morning our group became eligible for the shot,” said Lon.

After, they went to the website to sign up and chose a location closest to them.

“We want to make sure that we have some degree of protection before we start going out to do things,” said Lon.

Despite life threatening illnesses, their infectious smiles and their excitement show a sign of hope as they wait for their first dose.

“The COVID pandemic has literally paralyzed people’s lives…We can hopefully one day in the not-to-distant future return to somewhat of a normal life,” said Dr. Hanna.

If you have one of the eligible health conditions and have not received a link, ISDH says you should contact your healthcare provider.

Many of you are still wondering who’s next on the vaccine priority list. Experts say the next group should be those 50 and older, along with cardiovascular disease patients. These are the people who are at a higher risk for being hospitalized for COVID and the vaccine will prevent that. 

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