State developing virus vaccine eligibility criteria

By The Associated Press

INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana health officials are developing the criteria they will use to decide who is entitled to receive a coronavirus vaccine when one becomes available.

Health Commissioner Dr. Kristina Box expects the supply of doses will be extremely limited once the federal government approves a vaccine for widespread human use — possibly just 10 million or 15 million doses for the 330 million people living in the United States, she said last week.

If the vaccine is distributed to each state based on its share of the U.S. population, Indiana might receive only 300,000 doses initially for its 6.7 million residents, The (Northwest Indiana) Times reported.

Box said the State Department of Health is preparing to identify which Hoosiers should get vaccine priority and who can continue following COVID-19 prevention practices — such as face mask wearing, social distancing and regular hand washing — until vaccine doses are more widely available.

“Indiana is using a team of experts to ethically look at, and medically look at, those individuals that should receive this immunization first here in the state of Indiana,” Box said.

Residents should be confident when a vaccine comes out that it meets all applicable federal and state health and safety standards for immunizations, Box said.

“I want you to know that the pharmaceutical companies that are engaged in producing the vaccines are committed to not rolling out a vaccine until they have fully vetted that vaccine,” Box said.

The drug companies and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration are following the “highest standards for ethics, and highest standards for scientific principles, in developing these vaccines,” she said.

“I feel like the pharmaceutical companies and the FDA have at their heart the absolute desire to ethically present to us, and scientifically, the best vaccines that they possibly can,” Box said.

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