Hoosiers aged 50-54 are now eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine, Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb announced Wednesday. The decision comes one day after the state opened up vaccinations to the 55-59 age group.
The state said 35% of Hoosiers are 50 and older and have accounted for 80% of all COVID-19 hospitalizations and 97.6% of all COVID-19 deaths. The 50-54 age group accounts for 412,000 adults in Indiana.
Holcomb said the availability of the new Johnson & Johnson one-dose vaccine, which federal officials approved Saturday for emergency use, helped make an expansion of age groups possible. The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines require two doses.
The eligibility pool previously consisted of Hoosiers aged 55 and older, front-line health care workers and first responders.
Indiana began administering the vaccines in mid-December. The state said more than 608,000 Hoosiers had been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 as of Wednesday at 5 a.m. More than 1 million had received the first dose of a vaccination.
Lindsay Weaver, chief medical officer for the Indiana State Department of Health, said the state will continue to concentrate on age groups as it opens up eligibility for the vaccine. She said people 40-49 will be next on the list on an incremental basis.
The state has received some criticism for not opening up vaccine eligibility to all teachers, which some other states have done. Weaver said more than 50% of the state’s teachers will be able to be vaccinated once eligibility is expanded to the 40-and-over age group.
Teachers younger than 50 will also be able to sign up for the vaccine through a federal distribution program at Kroger, Meijer and Walmart locations throughout the state. That’s part of President Joe Biden’s recently announced plan to vaccinate all teachers. The scheduling for those appointments will be done directly through the pharmacy, not through the state’s sign-up system.
To schedule a vaccine through the state system, Hoosiers can visit https://ourshot.in.gov and select a location from one of more than 370 clinics around the state.
People who do not have a computer or cell phone or those who need assistance scheduling an appointment can call 211 or contact one of Indiana’s Area Agencies on Aging, or AARP. Nearly 70 libraries around the state also are helping Hoosiers schedule appointments.
Vaccination clinics that are part of the federal vaccine program, including those at Walmart, Sam’s Club and Kroger, appear on the clinic map at https://ourshot.in.gov but are scheduled through those retailers’ platforms, not through the state-centralized system.