March 15, 2021

Teachers Can Get COVID-19 Vaccine At State Sites, Indiana Adds New Comorbidity Eligibility

Article origination IPBS-RJC
An Indiana teacher gets the COVID-19 vaccine at a clinic in Elkhart.  - Justin Hicks/IPB News

An Indiana teacher gets the COVID-19 vaccine at a clinic in Elkhart.

Justin Hicks/IPB News

Updated March 15 at 5:30 p.m.

Indiana K-12 teachers, school staff and child care workers can now get the COVID-19 vaccine at any site in the state.

The Biden administration made the vaccine available for educators through federal pharmacy program sites – in Indiana, Kroger, Meijer and Walmart – the week of March 8.

Gov. Eric Holcomb said the federal government went a step further this week.

“We were using data to drive all of our decisions about those who were most at risk," Holcomb said. "The administration – our federal partners – said ‘You need to add in [teachers] to any site.’ And so, we will do that.”

The expansion includes pre-K through 12 teachers, Head Start and Early Head Start programs, licensed child care providers, center-based and family care providers, classroom aides, bus drivers, janitors, counselors, administrative staff, cafeteria workers and substitute teachers.

Holcomb said that forced addition will have an impact on getting the vaccine to Hoosiers with a long list of comorbidities. The state announced Wednesday it’s expanding vaccine eligibility to include more comorbidities.

The new eligibility includes:

  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Muscular dystrophy
  • People born with severe heart defects, requiring specialized medical care.
  • People with severe type 1 diabetes, who have been hospitalized in the past year.
  • Phenylketonuria (PKU), Tay-Sachs, and other rare, inherited metabolic disorders.
  • Epilepsy with continuing seizures, hydrocephaly, microcephaly and other severe neurologic disorders
  • People with severe asthma who have been hospitalized for this in the past year
  • Alpha and beta thalassemia
  • Spina bifida
  • Cerebral palsy
  • People who require supplemental oxygen and/or tracheostomy
  • Pulmonary fibrosis, Alpha-1 Antitrypsin
  • Immunocompromised state (weakened immune system) from blood or bone marrow transplant, immune deficiencies, combined primary immunodeficiency disorder, HIV, daily use of corticosteroids, use of other immune weakening medicines, receiving tumor necrosis factor-alpha blocker or rituximab.

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

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Dr. Lindsay Weaver, Indiana Department of Health chief medical officer, said getting vaccinations for those with comorbidities (who don’t meet the age qualification) is coordinated through health care providers.

“If you believe you or your loved one qualifies, it is appropriate to reach out to your provider, to ensure that they are submitting your information,” Weaver said.

Weaver said those who have a condition on the comorbidity list will get a unique code from the Department of Health they can use to schedule their vaccination. She said once a health care provider submits someone's information to the state, it can take 24-48 hours for the person to be notified with that unique code.

This story has been updated.

Contact reporter Brandon at bsmith@ipbs.org or follow him on Twitter at @brandonjsmith5.

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