IndyCar drivers campaign with ISDH as Hoosier vaccinations reach 2 million

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INDIANAPOLIS––IndyCar drivers Tony Kanaan and Charlie Kimball joined ISDH State Health Commissioner Dr. Kristina Box and Chief Medical Officer Dr. Lindsay Weaver for an update to Indiana’s vaccination efforts from the mass clinic at Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS) on Thursday.

Kanaan was there to support the state’s “Got My Shot” campaign and stated, “We are professional athletes that go around the track at 240 miles an hour and we got the shot.”

The “Got My Shot” campaign includes:

  • May 10, 17 and 24: Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer vaccines from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.
  • May 11-16: Second dose Moderna vaccines for anyone who received their first dose at IMS last month. The Pfizer vaccine will also be available these days for anyone seeking a first dose.
  • May 21: Second dose of Pfizer vaccine for individuals who attended family day on April 30.

Kimball echoed the sentiment and said, “As a type 1 diabetic, as soon I was eligible I put my name in. I trust physics to hold me on the track and I trust the science.”

Thursday’s press conference also premiered promotional videos from Kanaan and Kimball to promote the vaccination effort and run across the state in May.

The speedway is set to offer vaccinations every day the track is open in May, according to IMS President Doug Boles. He said IMS wants to get people here and get them vaccinated, adding that Hoosiers will hear it on the PA announcements and see signs across the facilities starting with next Friday’s Grand Prix practice.

Boles cited the successful efforts so far and said more than 70,000 people have been through the gates at IMS to get vaccinated. He thanked the partnership with IU Health and the Indiana National Guard as well.

Dr. Box also announced that if you get vaccinated in the month of May, you get the “Got My Shot” t-shirt

IndyCar drivers Tony Kanaan (left) and Charlie Kimball (right)

Dr. Weaver said ISDH is offering different varieties of the vaccine, and added that the Pfizer vaccine is approved for those 16 and over, and is expected to expand soon to ages 12 and over. 

She is hopeful to get 30,000 through the gates in the month of May. “We’re still planning on every Hoosier. That’s where we have to keep our focus,” Dr. Weaver said. 

Dr. Box and Dr. Weaver said all sites across the state are accepting walk-ins now and will not turning anyone away. Appointments are great to help avoid long lines, but everyone is being accepted if they show up.

When asked why he wanted to get vaccinated, Kanaan said, “For me it was a no-brainer. The experience itself, this place never ceases to amaze me … not just Indiana, but the speedway.”

ISDH State Health Commissioner Dr. Kristina Box (left) and Chief Medical Officer Dr. Lindsay Weaver (right)

Original Story (May 5, 2021):

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana’s rate of COVID-19 vaccination shots has remained sluggish in recent weeks while coronavirus-related hospitalizations have slowly climbed to their highest number since February.

State health department statistics updated Wednesday show that about 2 million people have been fully vaccinated in Indiana, or about 37% of residents ages 16 and older.

Indiana’s vaccination rate has remained at about 40,000 people a day over the past three weeks. That is down from the state’s peak of more than 50,000 a day in early April.

Health officials have said they are worried about increased risk from more contagious coronavirus variants at a time when so many people aren’t immunized.

“The more people who are vaccinated in our community, the less likely we are to see outbreaks and the need for a retightening of restrictions to slow the spread,” said Dr. Virginia Caine, the Marion County health department director. “The COVID-19 vaccine, it is our route to freedom and more safety.”

The state health department’s weekly tracking map updated Wednesday showed four of the five Indiana counties that border Michigan continue to show moderate risk of COVID-19 spread.

Those counties have orange risk ratings — the second highest of the four ratings. One other northern Indiana county has an orange rating while most others have the next-highest yellow rating. Indiana officials have been watching those northern counties because Michigan continues to have the country’s highest infection rate.

Three counties in rural southern Indiana also have orange risk ratings. None of Indiana’s 92 counties have the highest-risk red ratings.

Indiana hospitals, meanwhile, reported treating just more than 1,000 coronavirus patients as of Tuesday. That is up from about 600 patients a day in March but far below the more than 3,000 a day that were being treated through much of November and December.

The health department has added 61 coronavirus-related deaths over the past week to the state’s toll, raising the pandemic total to 13,373. Indiana’s seven-day moving average of deaths has remained at 10 or less for more than a month after averaging more than 100 a day for much of December.

Vaccination rates vary widely across the state. Four counties in suburban Indianapolis have roughly half or more of their residents 16 and older fully vaccination. But Marion County, which includes Indianapolis, is below the state average at 34% and about 20 mainly rural counties across the state have rates of 30% or lower.

Caine said her Marion County department was focusing on outreach to Blacks, Hispanics and Asians, who’ve been vaccinated at about half the rate of white Indianapolis residents. Those in their 30s and younger are also being targeted as they have vaccination rates under 20% even though shots have been available to them for several weeks.

“It’s a harder sale,” Caine said. “It’s a different age group that we have to have them understand the relevance and the importance of this in terms of only their safety but protecting their loved ones, their parents, their siblings, their best friends.”

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