Indiana state health officials urge Hoosiers to get vaccinated for COVID-19 as demand for them decreases and COVID-19 variants increase.
During an April 28 virtual briefing, Indiana State Health Commissioner Dr. Kristina Box said demand for vaccines has declined in the weeks following the state’s move to open eligibility to all residents 16 and older.
Because supply is beginning to outpace demand, the Indiana State Dept. of Health is directing vaccination clinics with openings to not require appointments and accept walk-ins, although appointments are still encouraged.
The dwindling demand for vaccines comes after approximately one-third of eligible Indiana residents have been fully vaccinated. As of April 28, a total of 4,114,426 doses had been administered in Indiana, including 2,315,568 first doses. A total of 1,798,858 individuals were fully vaccinated.
State health officials also said variants of COVID-19 have increased across the state and account for 31.7 percent of new cases. Box said the ISDH plans to include the prevalence of variants on its coronavirus dashboard, coronavirus.in.gov.
State health officials said it’s important for Indiana residents to get vaccinated to slow the spread of new variants, which data suggests are more lethal and are spread more easily than the original variants. They said data collected from people who have been vaccinated shows residents are significantly more susceptible to the disease if they don’t get vaccinated.
“We are seeing the greatest increase in cases right now among people in their 20s and 30s, where our vaccination numbers are significantly lower,” ISDH Chief Medical Officer Lindsay Weaver said. “Since March 1, we saw a 130 percent increase (in cases) in 30- to 39-year-olds and a 93 percent increase in 20- to 29-year-olds.”
A statewide hospital census revealed only 2.5 percent of hospitalized COVID-19 patients since March 1 had been fully vaccinated. To date, only 0.04 percent of residents have been hospitalized after being fully vaccinated.
“People keep asking me, ‘What is it that we have to get to feel safe?’” Box said. “For me, it is everyone that is able to take the vaccine to take it because I don’t want any Hoosier to perish from a disease that we have a vaccine for that has this good of a result with it.”
In related news, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued new guidance April 27, easing recommendations on when and where vaccinated and unvaccinated people should wear masks. The CDC has determined unvaccinated people can gather outside when exercising without a mask with members of the same household and when holding small, outdoor gatherings with vaccinated family and friends. Vaccinated people can do most activities outdoors without a mask, but the CDC recommends they still wear a mask in crowded places, even when outdoors. For the CDC’s full recommendations, visit cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/participate-in-activities.html.