Federal allotment of COVID-19 vaccine hindering rollout


Uncertainty about the amount of COVID-19 vaccine Indiana receives each week has led to state officials putting the brakes on “putting needles in people’s arms.”

Gov. Eric Holcomb delivered that message Thursday afternoon during his weekly update in the state’s fight against COVID-19.

One of the more significant pieces of information to come out of the news conference was that the next group of Hoosiers to receive the COVID-19 vaccine will be those in the 65 to 69 age group, Dr. Kristina Box said.

“When we announced our first age-based approach, we had said the next eligible group would be Hoosiers 60 to 69,” said Box, who is the state’s health commissioner. “This is a small change in that we are breaking that category down and will start with a smaller group of Hoosiers again because of the amount of vaccine we are receiving.”

Box said there are about 350,000 people in the 65 to 69 age group, comparable to the number of Hoosiers in the 70 to 79 age group, which became eligible about a week ago.

There is not an estimated date about when the next age group will be eligible, but Box said deciding when that group will receive its vaccine comes down to allocation the state receives each week. That information is made available each Tuesday.

“Rest assured that we will continue to request every single dose that the United States federal government allows us for to access, and we will get those doses out as quickly as possible,” Box said.

Currently, the state has been receiving about 78,000 to 80,000 COVID-19 vaccination doses weekly.

Holcomb said the allotment of vaccines the federal government provides to the state is the biggest issue hindering the vaccine rollout in Indiana.

“We say a lot around here ‘We need more’ because we have the infrastructure and logistical plan put in place to be able to get it out to all 92 counties,” he said.

When it comes to how the vaccine rollout is currently going, Holcomb reported 238,000 Hoosiers in the 70 to 79 age group have scheduled or received a vaccine. This makes up just more than 50% of the 470,000 total people that are a part of that age group.

About 125,000 Hoosiers age 80 and older have scheduled or received a vaccination.

According to the Indiana State Department of Health’s COVID-19 vaccination dashboard, 2,023 or 4.5% of 44,231 Jackson County residents have received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine and 513 or 0.1% of county residents have been fully vaccinated.

This is an increase of 211 county residents receiving their first dose since Tuesday. Forty-eight more have been fully vaccinated.

Since Dec. 14, 362,452 Hoosiers have received their first dose, while 87,506 are fully vaccinated.

Of the 5.4 million people in Indiana eligible for a vaccination, 626,000 are scheduled to receive a vaccination or already have.

Holcomb said long-term care facility patients aren’t included in that number.

Box said more than 362,000 Hoosiers have been able to receive their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine within a month’s time with 88,000 people being fully vaccinated.

“That is an incredible milestone for our state and represents the first crucial steps on a journey back to normalcy,” she said.

There are 189 COVID-19 vaccination sites in Indiana, and Holcomb said the state is taking an “underpromise, overdeliver” approach to make sure “expectations align with the results.”

Box said the state has received questions about having mass vaccination clinics, but the focus is on expanding the number of clinics and making the vaccine rollout process easier for eligible Hoosiers due to the limited amount of vaccines being received.

Even though the number of COVID-19 cases in Indiana is trending downward, the governor said people should still take precautions in limiting the spread of infection.

“We don’t want to get ahead of ourselves. We still have most counties in red,” he said. “So I may be giddy right now just looking at trends and trajectories, we’re still over double-digit positivity rate and we’re still losing people. We want to make sure we do this in a very responsible, data-driven way as we’ve done from the very beginning.”

Chief Medical Officer Dr. Lindsay Weaver said between Monday and Friday of this past week, 55,000 Hoosier had booked appointments to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

She also said there are no appointments available at this time, but those eligible to receive a vaccine should check ourshot.in.gov or call 211 for information.

Weaver also said the system the state is using for its vaccine rollout is done so everyone who books an appointment is able to get a vaccine.

“The system we have in place is to ensure that we don’t have to do what other states have done — cancel vaccine appointments due to no doses available,” she said. “While you may be frustrated at the availability of appointments, you can rest assured that there will be a dose for you when you arrive.”

The state announced Thursday that 4,207 Jackson County residents have tested positive for COVID-19, an increase of 16 from Wednesday’s total.

The positivity rate for Jackson County is at 10.5%, a 0.5% decrease from Wednesday’s 12.5%, according to the ISDH COVID-19 dashboard.

The rate is determined by a seven-day moving average with a six-day lag to give time to receive comprehensive results. The current positivity rate for the county would be for Jan. 8 to 14.

Jackson County is now classified as a level 2.5 county, meaning an orange warning level for COVID-19 spread.

Last week, 73 of Indiana’s 92 counties were classified at a red warning level. This week, only 34 counties are red.

One new death attributed to COVID-19 was reported in Jackson County on Thursday, meaning the death toll increases to 47.

The latest results were as of 11:59 p.m. Wednesday. The coronavirus dashboard is updated at noon daily.

On Thursday, 3,733 additional Hoosiers across the state were diagnosed with COVID-19 through testing at the ISDH, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and private laboratories.

This brings the total number of Hoosiers known to have had the novel coronavirus to 601,937 following corrections to the previous day’s total.

Indiana’s total number of deaths attributed to COVID-19 is 9,218 with 64 new deaths being reported Thursday.

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