Indiana has crossed another big milestone in its fight against COVID-19, with more than half the state’s adult population having received at least one vaccine dose.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported as of 6 a.m. Monday that 50.3% of Hoosiers aged 18 and older, or about 2.59 million people, had received at least one dose.
About 2.2 million Hoosiers, or 41.9% of Hoosiers aged 18 and older have been fully vaccinated.
State health officials say they are pushing hard to increase those numbers, with mass vaccination clinics around the state and more than 700 locations where people can walk in and get vaccinated with an appointment.
The increase was already evident in recent weeks. State Health Commissioner Dr. Kris Box said on May 12 she was excited by the rising numbers, after a plateau in previous weeks.
“It’s incredibly exciting to see the numbers increase,” she said May 12 during a press briefing. “We have made incredible progress as a state in the fight against this pandemic. But we still have a journey ahead of us and we don’t want to give up any ground.”
But while Indiana has crossed the halfway threshold for giving its population at least one dose, all neighboring states have higher percentages on this mark: Illinois (63.6%), Ohio (54.2%), Kentucky (55.3%) and Michigan (57.2%)
The same is true for the percentage of adults who are fully vaccinated. Indiana’s rate of 41.9% is eclipsed by Illinois (46.3%), Ohio (47.8%), Kentucky (46.2%) and Michigan (48.6%).
Indiana health officials are continuing to push a message that vaccinations save lives and decrease the risk of infection and hospitalization.
“Please don’t gamble with your health or the health of your loved ones,” said Dr. Lindsay Weaver, the state health department’s chief medical officer, during the May 12 briefing.
Box said the state is offering vaccines to clinics and hospitals in higher amounts in an effort to win over more people with the convenience of walk-in vaccinations. But the strategy also risks many doses going unused and wasted, because once vials are opened, they cannot be stored again overnight.
She said the state is encouraging vaccination sites to offer vaccines to anyone who walks in, even if it means opening a new vial, which often contains more than a half-dozen doses.
“We have largely reached the population that was eager to be first in line to be vaccinated,” Box said. “We are working with those who remain on the fence or are hesitant, and we’re doing that one shot at a time.”