LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Hoosiers 70 and older can now register to receive coronavirus vaccinations as Indiana continues to expand access to the shots, the Indiana State Department of Health said Wednesday.
By mid-afternoon on Wednesday, roughly 60,000 Indiana residents aged 70 to 79 had already signed up to get their first shot.
State Health Commissioner Dr. Kristina Box says Indiana is quickly expanding its vaccination schedule as the state receives more doses.
"We have not been sitting on doses of vaccine and we never will," Dr. Box said. "We know the federal government has said they will send us more vaccine but we haven't been told when or how much or that the doses are on their way. By making vaccine available to individuals age 70 and older, we are continuing our mission of protecting our most vulnerable Hoosiers."
Box admits it's frustrating to wait, but is urging Indiana residents to continue wearing masks, social distancing and washing hands. She says it's especially important now because the new, more infectious strain of the virus has been detected in Indiana.
"It does not appear that the new strain causes a higher percentage of deaths or cases, or more severe illness than the one we've been dealing with," she said. "But it is much easier to spread which could increase the burden on our health care system."
More than 220,000 Indiana residents have already gotten their first dose of the vaccine, and 40,000 have been totally vaccinated. But Indiana's positivity rate remains high, at 16.1 percent on Wednesday.
Box says the state is working to provide more locations to receive the vaccine.
The vaccines became available to Indiana residents 80 and older last Friday following the initial rollout of doses for Indiana health care workers and nursing home residents and staffers in December. Health officials said last week that they planned to start offering vaccinations in the coming weeks next to those 70 and older and then 60 and older.
Anyone needing assistance with appointment registration can call 211 or one of Indiana's Area Agencies on Aging. A caregiver or loved one also may make an appointment on behalf of an eligible senior.
The state of Indiana reported 3,686 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, as well as 59 new COVID-19 related deaths. That brought to 574,119 the number of Indiana residents known to have had the virus, and 8,790 who are confirmed to have died from COVID-19.
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