Indiana health leaders watching vaccine supply closely

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(Photo supplied/Berrien County Health Department)

Indiana won’t expand eligibility for the COVID vaccine until there’s more vaccine to give them.

Right now, the vaccine is available to health-care workers, first responders, and people 70 and up. State health commissioner Kristina Box says the next group will be people over 65, but not until there’s enough vaccine available.

Indiana has been receiving about 80-thousand doses of vaccine a week, and Box says Gustave Perna, the C-O-O of the federal vaccine effort, has told her that will remain unchanged the next couple of weeks. She says Perna “hinted” the allocation might increase in early February, but says, “I’ve become a bird-in-the-hand woman. If I don’t have it in my hand, I don’t believe it.”

Targeting people 65 and up as the next group is a change from the previous plan to vaccinate those 60 and up. Box says the health department narrowed the target due to the continuing short supply of vaccine. She says there’s no way to predict when eligibility will be expanded.

Box says half of Hoosiers in their 70s have been vaccinated or have appointments scheduled, but that still leaves more than 200-thousand not yet on the schedule.

The short supply means nearly all appointments for the next couple of weeks are booked. Chief medical officer Lindsay Weaver says Indiana is only booking appointments it knows it can keep. New York and South Carolina have canceled some residents’ appointments for the second and final dose of the vaccine because they don’t have enough. Weaver says Indiana is keeping those second doses in reserve to ensure that doesn’t happen.

Box says the 190 vaccination sites have the capacity to serve more people, but don’t have enough vaccine to do it.

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