INDIANAPOLIS — Frontline health care workers, nursing home staffers, and nursing home residents could begin getting COVID-19 immunizations in mid-December, but most Hoosiers will remain unvaccinated through the pandemic’s darkest months.
The vaccine allocation plan released by state health officials in October calls for a three-phased approach, similar to distribution models unveiled by California, Virginia, Tennessee, and other states.
Indiana’s 75-page document is an interim draft and does not outline the duration or estimated start date of each phase.
“Planning needs to be flexible but as specific as possible” due to changing levels of vaccine supply, state health officials said.
Phase 1-A will begin immediately after the federal government approves a vaccine candidate for emergency use. Limited doses will be available to be administered in closed settings such as hospitals or nursing homes.
Employees and volunteers in health care settings who cannot work from home and have the potential for COVID-19 exposure will be among the first Hoosiers to receive immunization shots.
Other essential workers and people at higher risk of severe COVID-19 illness, including people age 65 and older, will be vaccinated during phase 1-B.
The availability of a “large number” of vaccine doses will mark the beginning of phase 2 and allow the state to expand vaccine administration to a “broad provider network,” according to the draft plan.
The remainder of phase 1 populations and portions of the general population will able to get shots in doctors’ offices, clinics, retail pharmacies, and public health venues during phase 2.
Open access to COVID-19 vaccines will be possible during the third and final phase when the state shifts to a “routine strategy” of administering vaccines.
Emily Parsons, a Butler University senior participating in AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine trial, said prioritizing the protection of the vulnerable and high-risk through a phased plan made sense to her.
She volunteered for the trial as an act of public service after hearing about it on a local news program, she said.
If the vaccine candidate is ultimately approved – and she received a placebo – she would be among the last groups of Hoosiers eligible for the shot; that didn’t stop her from stepping up to help advance research.
“I’ve just been sitting at home this whole time, not really doing a whole lot, and this was a way that I could play a role in making things better for society,” Parsons told News 8.