State health officials plead for more vaccines. “Faster immunization, slower spread.”
That’s Indiana’s goal as the COVID-19 pandemic continues across the country.
But getting more immunizations means getting more vaccine—and that supply has been limited. While the state is touting success—about 626,000 Hoosiers vaccinated or scheduled to be vaccinated, according to Holcomb—the state can’t expand vaccination efforts without more doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.
Holcomb, State Health Commissioner Dr. Kristina Box and Chief Medical Officer Dr. Lindsay Weaver are confident the state has the infrastructure to vaccinate more Hoosiers.
The holdup: getting those additional doses.
“I’m really pleased that our very methodical, under-promise, over-deliver approach [is working], making sure that we’re not over-promising and expectations are in line with what’s occurring,” Holcomb said of the vaccination effort.
Health experts blame rapid expansion for vaccine shortages. Public health experts Thursday blamed COVID-19 vaccine shortages around the U.S. in part on the Trump administration’s push to get states to vastly expand their vaccination drives to reach the nation’s estimated 54 million people age 65 and over.
The push that began over a week ago has not been accompanied by enough doses to meet demand, according to state and local officials, leading to frustration and confusion and limiting states’ ability to attack the outbreak that has killed over 400,000 Americans.
Over the past few days, authorities in California, Ohio, West Virginia, Florida and Hawaii warned that their supplies were running out. New York City began canceling or postponing shots or stopped making new appointments because of the shortages, which President Joe Biden has vowed to turn around. Florida’s top health official said the state would deal with the scarcity by restricting vaccines to state residents.
The vaccine rollout so far has been “a major disappointment,” said Dr. Eric Topol, head of the Scripps Research Translational Institute.
Problems started with the Trump administration’s “fatal mistake” of not ordering enough vaccine, which was then snapped up by other countries, Topol said. Then, opening the line to senior citizens set people up for disappointment because there wasn’t enough vaccine, he said. The Trump administration also left crucial planning to the states and didn’t provide the necessary funding.
Daily COVID-19 case counts show signs of downward slope in Indiana. Despite an additional 3,733 positive coronavirus cases announced on Thursday, health officials say Indiana is trending downward for community spread.
According to the Indiana State Department of Health’s COVID-19 dashboard, Indiana has not reported daily case counts this low since November.
“We’re just now starting to see the continuance of that downward slope that I think we were trying to get to actually back in November if it hadn’t been for the traveling and the clustering that the holidays entail,” said Dr. Cole Beeler, Medical Director of Infection Prevention at IU Health Hospital.
Doctor Beeler said the slight downward slope of Indiana’s cases could be caused by a variety of factors – from slower spread to vaccinations taking effect.
“Right now, there’s just too many unknown variables to say that we should really be celebrating,” Dr. Beeler said.
The state’s downward trend, however, also comes with a decrease in testing.
Wayne County teachers put on standby list for COVID-19 vaccine. More than 25 teachers in Wayne County have received their first dose of COVID-19 vaccine as of Thursday. The county health department added school staff to its standby list in case they had any unused doses at the end of the day.
Teachers as a group are not eligible to sign up for a COVID-19 vaccine appointment right now in Indiana. When the state changed its allocation plan, it meant school staff had to wait longer than other groups, such as police officers.
In the original vaccine allocation plan, police and school teachers were in Phase 2. Now police officers are in Phase 1-A and the Phase 1-B groups eligible to receive the vaccine are Hoosiers 70 and older.
Last week, Wayne County health officials asked its schools to reach out to any teachers who may be interested in being on that list. The schools then compiled a list for standby doses.
“Some evenings, we have only one or two. Others we may have as many as nine,” said Christine Stinson, executive director of the Wayne County Health Department. “By having a standby list, our clinic has zero wastage.”
Biden administration asks Congress to pass COVID-19 relief bill. President Joe Biden says his biggest priority is bringing relief to millions of Americans in the middle of a pandemic that has spiraled out of control.
His administration is asking Congress to pass another massive COVID-19 relief package.
“We have more work to do,” Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., said.
Durbin says with Biden now securely in the White House and the Senate flipped blue, Democrats are eager to pass another sweeping COVID-19 relief deal.
“Let’s take this seriously, let’s help the businesses, help the workers, help the families,” Durbin said.
And with death rates sky rocketing, Durbin says he fears the crisis will worsen if Congress fails to pass Bidens’ proposed $1.9 trillion plan.
“We may have to face the reality that we may have darker days ahead,” Durbin said.