46,000 healthcare workers in Indiana registered to get COVID-19 vaccine

(Photo supplied/Indiana State Department of Healtth)

46,000 Hoosier healthcare workers have registered so far to get vaccinated against the coronavirus. The state hasn’t decided who’s next in line.

Indiana State Department of Health chief medical officer Lindsay Weaver says the department is awaiting guidance from a Centers for Disease Control ethics panel on who should be next to receive the vaccine. Indiana has its own vaccine advisory council which will review the CDC’s data to make recommendations in a couple of weeks.

Weaver says the panel will balance several considerations, including who’s most likely to be exposed to the virus or expose others, and who’s most vulnerable if they are infected. Another factor may be differences between vaccines, making them suitable for some groups but not others. For instance, the Pfizer-made vaccine is approved for people 16 and up, while the Moderna vaccine awaiting approval as soon as this weekend would be for adults only.

And Weaver says all of that has to be balanced against the supply of vaccine. Indiana received 55,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine in this week’s shipment, but Weaver says the state’s already been notified it will receive less next week than originally expected. She says there’s still enough for everyone who had signed up for a vaccine appointment next week. But Indiana was already expecting it would take until sometime next month to vaccinate all health care workers, even before the cutback.

State health commissioner Kristina Box predicts It’ll be several months before there’s enough vaccine for everyone who wants it.

Governor Holcomb says he’s received 100 letters from various groups arguing their members should receive priority. He says the state will stick to the process the health department comes up with. Weaver says the department will provide regular updates, and is talking with hospitals and pharmacies about how to get word out to eligible groups as their turn comes up.

Weaver says the high demand among health professionals should reassure anyone who still has doubts about whether the vaccine is safe. Holcomb says he’ll get vaccinated, but won’t “cut the line” to do so.

“I’m the furthest thing from a frontline health care worker,” Holcomb says.

About 200 Indiana National Guard troops who have been deployed to nursing homes to help plug staffing shortages have been vaccinated, under a separate pilot program overseen by the Pentagon.

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