June 8, 2021

Health Officials Worry About Low Vaccination Rates

Rebecca Green/WBOI

Rebecca Green/WBOI

Upon taking office, President Joe Biden set July 4as a benchmark for getting 70 percent of the nation fully vaccinated from the COVID-19 virus.

However, public health experts say it is unlikely Indiana will reach that goal with just weeks until the deadline.

“We're still hearing a lot of hesitancy among younger people about fertility issues. Unfortunately, a lot of false information is made on social media. There's no scientific basis to any of that,” said Shandy Dearth, director of the undergraduate epidemiology program at IU’s Fairbanks School of Public Health.

She worries about an uptick in COVID-19 cases this fall if vaccination numbers continue to stagnate.

“We do all kind of expect a bump in numbers in early fall and everyone gets back together because again, we won't have the kids vaccinated yet,” Dearth said.

Reached for comment, the Indiana Department of Health responded with the following statement:

“Our goal is for every eligible Hoosier to receive a vaccine, and we continue to host mobile vaccine clinics and to work to increase vaccine access across the state, including getting healthcare providers to begin offering it in physician offices.There are more than 1,000 vaccination sites around the state. Currently, nearly 46 percent of eligible Hoosiers are fully vaccinated, and we have seen very high uptake among people ages 60 and older. Our current focus is on increasing vaccination rates among younger populations so that we do achieve high levels of immunity across the state."

The department said it is continuing a public awareness campaign geared toward reducing vaccine hesitancy.

Dearth said the state should deploy mobile vaccination clinics to county fairs, festivals, as well as places of employment to encourage more people to get the shot.

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