April 28, 2021

Health Officials Outline Future Consequences For Indiana Vaccine Hesitancy

Article origination IPBS-RJC
Dr. Lindsey Weaver, Indiana Department of Health chief medical officer, says it is achievable that Indiana hits herd immunity in 2021.  - Justin Hicks/IPB News

Dr. Lindsey Weaver, Indiana Department of Health chief medical officer, says it is achievable that Indiana hits herd immunity in 2021.

Justin Hicks/IPB News

Indiana lags behind the national average for COVID-19 vaccines, with just less than 27 percent of the state’s total population fully vaccinated. When pointing to more rural zip codes, health officials said they’re working with the Indiana Rural Health Association to help improve vaccination rates. 

State Health Commissioner Dr. Kris Box said access is only one of the barriers.

"I believe truly, it has a little bit more to do with vaccine hesitancy than it has to do with the access there. But I always say you can’t say it’s about vaccine hesitancy until you’ve made sure you’ve made the access appropriate," Box said.

While officials haven’t set a benchmark for it, Dr. Lindsey Weaver, Indiana Department of Health chief medical officer, said it is achievable that Indiana hits herd immunity in 2021. But she said experts are concerned about the consequences if we don’t.

"What the CDC’s been talking about and we’ve heard other experts say they are concerned about another large spike in the fall. So if you have not been vaccinated, then of course, your risk of getting sick, being hospitalized and even dying is much higher than the people who have been vaccinated," Weaver said.

Much like the rest of the U.S., Indiana is seeing an increase in COVID-19 variants in the state. Very few positive cases are tested to see if the virus is a variant, but of the small sample size that is tested, 31.7 percent is the U.K. variant.

READ MORE: How Will Indiana Distribute COVID-19 Vaccines? Here's What You Need To Know

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State health officials made a few new changes to the state’s vaccine rollout Wednesday. Indiana is encouraging state vaccine providers to accept walk-ins and working to get primary care providers access to vaccines. 

Contact Lauren at lchapman@wfyi.org or follow her on Twitter at @laurenechapman_.

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