INDIANAPOLIS – When more vaccine becomes available, Indiana will expand eligibility to Hoosiers 60 and older. The Department of Health’s Vaccine Advisory Committee has also decided the next groups that will become eligible after Hoosiers 60+.
When the state has enough vaccine and has vaccinated an appropriate portion of the 60 to 65 age group, they will incrementally expand eligibility to two additional groups.
Hoosiers age 50 and older will become eligible incrementally based on vaccine availability. In addition, residents under age 50 who meet criteria for five specific co-morbidities known to be more likely to be hospitalized or die from COVID-19 would be able to sign up.
Those co-morbidities include active dialysis patients, down syndrome, solid organ transplant recipients, sickle cell disease patients, and people who are actively in treatment for cancer or in the last three months, or with active primary lung cancer, active hematologic cancers, lymphoma, leukemia, and multiple myeloma.
It is unclear when Hoosiers 60+ and these two groups will be eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.
“This plan was deemed best after advisement from our state vaccine advisory committee, which includes experts in infectious disease, critical care, immunology and ethics,” said Dr. Lindsay Weaver, Chief Medical Officer.
Even expanding vaccine appointments to Hoosiers 50 and older will be a large undertaking. State health officials say there are nearly 858,000 Hoosiers age 50 to 59. They are urging Hoosiers to be patient while they wait for supplies to arrive.
Dr. Weaver said residents age 50 and over represent 80 percent of COVID-19 hospitalizations and 97.6% of the coronavirus deaths.
She explained Hoosiers 50 to 59 are 30 times more likely to die of COVID-19 than people age 20 to 29 and they are four times more likely to be hospitalized than the 20 to 29 age group.
Including the age 50 and older population will account for more than 80 percent of Hoosiers with high-risk conditions, such as COPD and heart failure.
As of Wednesday, more than 50 percent of the state’s 65- to 70-year-old Hoosiers either scheduled or have received their first dose of vaccine. The state hopes to decrease the age of eligibility to include Hoosiers 60 to 65 as soon as possible.
“This group includes about 432,000 people,” said Dr. Weaver.” Vaccinating Hoosiers age 60 and older targets a population that accounts for 93 percent of the deaths in Indiana.”
State health officials said they continue to use data to drive their decisions. They understand the five co-morbidities do not include all Hoosiers who have conditions that could put them at greater risk from COVID-19.
“We are working to expand those most at risk as quickly as our vaccines supplies allow us to do so,” she said.
Dr. Weaver said CDC’s list of co-morbidities would include more than 2 million Hoosiers.
“It is way too big of a group to just open it up to all of them,” she explained.
The state is currently receiving about 100,000 doses of vaccine each week.