COVID-19 vaccine available to those 55 and up

By CASEY SMITH
The Associated Press/Report for America

INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana residents age 55 to 60 are now eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, state health officials announced Tuesday as Indiana's supply of shots continued to increase.

The Indiana Department of Health said the latest expansion of the state’s vaccine rollout is the first step in making the free shots available to the nearly 858,000 residents in their 50s. Indiana's vaccine eligibility pool previously included residents age 60 and older, health care workers, first responders and those in long-term care.

Additional groups will be added as more vaccine becomes available, officials said. The state's current vaccine distribution plan indicates residents age 50 to 55 are next in line to receive shots, although there are no specific timelines for when new eligibility expansions will take effect.

Details about when teachers and other essential workers will become eligible for COVID-19 shots have also not been released.

State health officials previously said they anticipated 267,000 doses of Pfizer and Moderna vaccines this week. As of Tuesday, however, the state had received only 242,000 total doses of vaccine, said Megan Wade-Taxter, a spokeswoman for Indiana’s Health Department.

After the Johnson & Johnson vaccine was cleared by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Saturday, Indiana should also begin receiving 53,900 weekly doses of that vaccine, according to federal data.

State health officials confirmed Tuesday that Indiana expects to receive its full allocation of the new vaccine sometime this week. The new shipments will increase the state’s total supply of all first-dose vaccines by 50%.

“It’s an important milestone," said Micah Pollak, an Indiana University Northwest assistant professor of economics who analyses state vaccine data. “We’ve kind of just first crossed that threshold where, if we can just keep the supply at this level, that’s going to get us on track to vaccinate everyone we need to by the end of the summer."

The state Health Department additionally announced Tuesday the opening of three mass vaccination sites through partnerships with the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the University of Notre Dame and Ivy Tech Community College in Sellersburg.

Two- or three-day clinics will be held at each location, beginning Friday at the speedway. All three clinics require appointments and will only offer the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which unlike the Pfizer and Moderna shots, requires only one dose.

A fourth mass vaccination site is being planned in Gary, officials said. Other large-scale clinics could also open up as the state's vaccine allocations continue to increase.

To schedule a vaccine, residents can visit https://ourshot.in.gov and select a location from one of nearly 400 clinics around the state.




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