INDIANAPOLIS — Just weeks after state health officials opened up COVID-19 vaccine eligibility to all Hoosiers ages 16 and older, regulators have seen a decline in demand even as case numbers increase.
State health commissioner Dr. Kris Box started the Wednesday press conference with a “plea” for every Hoosier eligible to get the vaccine and continue pushing friends and family to vaccinate.
“We’re seeing such amazing results from the vaccine,” Box said. “Studies show that fully immunized (individuals) … have a 90% decrease in getting infected with COVID-19 and that the vaccine is 99% effective at preventing severe illness.”
Approximately one-third of Hoosiers have received at least one shot, but yet Indiana ranks 38th in the country for percentage of the population vaccinated, according to Beckers Hospital Review.
Box asked Hoosiers not to let their guard down as variants of COVID-19 emerge, causing case numbers and hospitalizations to increase. The number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 increased by 50% since late March to 955 Hoosiers and hospital admissions have doubled.
“COVID is still here and it is not going away anytime soon. Please be vigilant,” Box said.
New federal health guidelines permit fully vaccinated individuals to dine, go mask-less outdoors and visit other fully vaccinated individuals without masks. But vaccination rates decline steadily between age groups, Dr. Lindsay Weaver, chief medical officer of the Indiana Department of Health, said.
Weaver said officials hoped to increase vaccine acceptance by encouraging the use of walk-in appointments and getting primary care doctors involved in the process. But because of decreased demand, the state has allocated less vaccine to vaccination sites to decrease waste, Weaver said.
“Some of the reasons we hear are, ‘I’ve had COVID and I don’t need to vaccine.’ This isn’t true because we still don’t know how long the antibodies from COVID last,” Weaver said. “We also hear people say, ‘I’m perfectly healthy.’ This is a false sense of security – even perfectly healthy people get COVID and it can have severe outcomes.
“We also, lastly, hear, ‘I don’t trust the vaccine and more research is needed.’ To that, I say that all three vaccines have been studied extensively and have been shown to be extremely safe and effective.”
Weaver said that 0.04% of those vaccinated had a “breakthrough” case and contracted COVID-19, far lower than unvaccinated rates.
“I want to get everyone vaccinated,” Weaver said. “Even if we have 70% of people vaccinated but people are dying … (we’ve got) to just keep on going, keep on educating and doing everything we can to get many people vaccinated.”
To schedule a vaccine appointment or find testing sites, visit ourshot.in.gov.