(INDIANAPOLIS) — The first U.S. approval for a coronavirus vaccine is expected Thursday. Indiana is making plans for who gets it.
Federal officials have told Indiana to expect 55,575 doses of the vaccine developed by Pfizer by
the end of next week. Hospital and nursing home staff will get the vaccine first — not just doctors and
nurses, but anyone who’s in contact with patients. But that first shipment is only enough for one of
every seven of them, and even they won’t be immune till they get a followup shot three weeks later.
State health department chief medical officer Lindsay Weaver says five hospitals, in Indy, Fort
Wayne, Evansville, Munster and Jeffersonville, will be the first to receive the vaccine, because they
have the necessary ultracold storage. 45 more hospitals will be added by the end of next week.
Weaver says Indiana will make sure it uses every single dose — hospitals have been instructed to
have a waiting list of people ready to jump in if someone doesn’t show up.
Weaver says Indiana won’t finish vaccinating health care workers until sometime in January. A state
advisory board will decide who’s next in line. There’s been discussion of essential workers or people
at high-risk. But it’s a moot point until the state has more vaccine. Weaver says the state will receive
additional shipments every week, but hasn’t gotten any guidance on how much or when. It depends
on the speed of production, and how soon the FDA approves additional vaccines besides the one
State health commissioner Kristina Box says it’ll be at least June before the vaccination program
Weaver says there’s no reason to be concerned about the vaccine’s safety. She emphasizes the
vaccines under consideration don’t use live virus, but instead prompt the body’s immune system to
recognize COVID-19 and defend against it.