(SPEEDWAY, Ind.) – The move from emergency authorization to full approval for the COVID vaccine last month hasn’t been as much of a boost to Indiana’s vaccination rate as health officials thought it would be.
Indiana Department of Health chief medical officer Lindsay Weaver says there’s no question some unvaccinated Hoosiers were holding out for the FDA’s final blessing. Indiana’s biggest vaccination day since June came four days after the FDA gave its final approval. But vaccinations have tapered off again since.
Weaver says the FDA’s signoff confirmed what’s already abundantly clear: the vaccine is safe and effective. But state health commissioner Kristina Box says while there will still be mass vaccination events, the rush of people getting vaccinated is over. The state has awarded grants to groups from churches to the Purdue Extension to reach people in the regular course of their day to get the word out about the vaccine.
The department is also working with pediatricians and school nurses to urge parents to get their kids vaccinated. Kids under 16 remain Indiana’s least vaccinated age group, and Weaver expects the FDA will lower the eligibility age next month to five.
Nearly one in seven Indiana coronavirus patients have been under 18, a proportion that’s been rising since the arrival of the Delta variant and the start of school this summer. Weaver notes they haven’t been immune to serious illness either, with about 200 Hoosiers under 20 hospitalized for COVID in the last month.
One group has seen a sharp increase in vaccinations: people who are already fully vaccinated. Weaver says 35,000 Hoosiers have gotten booster shots in the five days since Indiana began offering them to senior citizens and people at high risk due to medical conditions.
Box says she’s concerned the politicization of the vaccine will spill over to other vaccines. IU Health and the National Guard are holding a combination COVID testing, COVID vaccination and flu shot clinic for the next month, across the street from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.