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Indiana clamps down on COVID-19 vaccine eligibility, clinics

A day after Indiana expanded coronavirus vaccine to all Hoosiers 60 and older, state health officials doubled down on eligibility restrictions and announced new guidelines for clinics administering shots.

Posted: Feb 24, 2021 5:27 PM
Updated: Feb 24, 2021 5:38 PM

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — A day after Indiana expanded coronavirus vaccine to all Hoosiers 60 and older, state health officials doubled down on eligibility restrictions and announced new guidelines for clinics administering shots.

Without enough vaccine for all Hoosiers, state health health commissioner Dr. Kristina Box said Wednesday that officials are stressing adherence to the state’s vaccine rollout plan that bases shot eligibility on age, rather than moving up teachers and other essential workers as other states have done.

Several clinics that have “ignored” those guidelines will not receive any more first-dose vaccines, Box said, though she declined to indicate where or how many such vaccination sites would be affected.

Box said state health officials are reaching out to other clinics that have deviated from the eligibility guidelines “to find out why and, to re-educate them about the importance of following the state’s priority list" when scheduling appointments and adding names to waitlists.

“We are not trying to be the vaccine police, that is the last thing we want to be,” Box said. “We are trying to ensure that we have ethical and equitable access to the vaccine across all 92 counties, based on what the data show are the highest risk individuals here in the state of Indiana. We cannot achieve that goal if sites deviate from the guidelines.”

The state health department’s chief medical officer Dr. Lindsay Weaver said clinics have additionally been instructed to stop administering first doses of COVID-19 vaccine to people who live in other states to ensure “that every dose received in Indiana goes to Hoosiers.”

Around 19,000 healthcare workers and first responders who work in Indiana but live in other states were inoculated, Weaver said. Those out-of-state workers will still be able to schedule and receive their second dose, but no new appointments will be scheduled for non-residents.

After a winter storm closed more than 80 clinics and disrupted upwards of 43,000 vaccine appointments last week, Box said Indiana has since received all delayed doses of vaccine, and regular weekly allotments have resumed.

State officials anticipated 247,000 doses of Pfizer and Moderna vaccines this week, Weaver said Wednesday. Accounting for new additional doses of Pfizer vaccine vials, that number is expected to increase to 267,000 beginning next week.

Indiana could also receive vials of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine as early as next week, she continued.

After vaccine eligibility opened to include Hoosiers aged 60 to 64 on Tuesday, Weaver said nearly 112,000 people in the age group have scheduled appointments, accounting for more than a fourth of the eligible population in that age bracket.

Nearly 921,000 Hoosiers have received their first dose of vaccine, an increase of nearly 87,000 from last week, Weaver said. Around 480,000 people across Indiana are now fully vaccinated.

As Indiana’s rates of new COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations and deaths continued a steep decline after peaking in early December, state health officials also lowered the risk level for COVID-19 spread in nearly all counties.

The state Department of Health on Wednesday reported 1,019 new coronavirus infections, bringing the total number of Hoosiers known to have the virus up to 658,043.

Health officials also added 14 recent coronavirus deaths to the statewide total, pushing it to 12,467 fatalities including both confirmed and presumed COVID-19 infections.

The state Department of Health’s weekly tracking map updated Wednesday labels no counties in the highest-risk red category for the second week in a row. That is down from 73 of the 92 counties in that category last month.

This week’s map lists only three counties in the next-riskiest orange category, a drop from eight last week and 40 two weeks earlier.

Fifty other counties have moved to the moderate-risk yellow rating, and 39 counties — including Marion, Hancock and Johnson — are labeled in the lowest-risk blue category.

Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb announced Wednesday that despite “remarkable” progress to state statistics in that last month, he will still extend extend the state’s health emergency and county-based restrictions for an additional 30 days.

“We were trending in the right direction. We have made remarkable progress in a relatively short period of time,” Holcomb said. “But this is not a mission accomplished moment — far from it.”

___

Casey Smith is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.

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Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 764448

Reported Deaths: 13965
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion1049701803
Lake567981029
Allen42685698
St. Joseph37253568
Hamilton37131426
Elkhart29699470
Tippecanoe23347230
Vanderburgh23106404
Porter19538327
Johnson18755391
Hendricks18012321
Madison13463345
Clark13450198
Vigo12789255
LaPorte12533224
Monroe12494178
Delaware11100198
Howard10612237
Kosciusko9736123
Hancock8707149
Bartholomew8235157
Warrick8031157
Floyd7975181
Grant7337181
Wayne7222201
Boone7145105
Morgan6886142
Marshall6323116
Dubois6267118
Cass6083111
Dearborn598578
Noble595790
Henry5939111
Jackson514677
Shelby509097
Lawrence4901127
Gibson460696
Montgomery454492
Clinton453555
DeKalb451585
Harrison450576
Whitley414745
Huntington411781
Steuben409560
Miami404073
Jasper399455
Knox387091
Putnam383762
Wabash367383
Adams351656
Ripley350471
Jefferson340486
White338954
Daviess3084100
Wells302281
Greene292285
Decatur291493
Fayette285864
Posey280435
Scott278058
LaGrange276972
Clay273048
Washington252437
Randolph247083
Jennings238149
Spencer237531
Fountain233750
Starke229859
Owen221059
Sullivan219043
Fulton207645
Jay202832
Carroll196522
Orange190556
Perry189139
Vermillion179644
Rush177027
Franklin171635
Tipton171547
Parke153616
Pike141234
Blackford137832
Pulaski122948
Newton122436
Benton109215
Brown105743
Crawford105116
Martin92515
Warren87615
Switzerland8308
Union73510
Ohio58211
Unassigned0428

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