Health officials in Indiana prepare for COVID-19 vaccine
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana officials are preparing for when the state will get a COVID-19 vaccine, Indiana’s health commissioner said.
The first vaccine is likely to be a two-dose version from Pfizer, Dr. Kristina Box said during a news conference Wednesday. This vaccine requires “ultra-low storage,” meaning it has to be stored at minus 70 degrees. The state is determining where it can store that vaccine as well as identifying vaccination sites, Box said.
The timeline for a second vaccine from Moderna is a “rapidly developing situation, so a lot is subject to change,” Box said.
“We do not know how much Indiana will receive yet, but we expect the supply to be limited in the beginning,” Box said.
Neither vaccine has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration, and multiple vaccine candidates are still undergoing trials. The Indiana State Department of Health has submitted its plan for distributing a vaccine to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In Indiana’s phased approach, healthcare workers and vulnerable individuals will be the first to receive the vaccine. People who can’t work from home, including teachers, food service workers, firefighters and police officers, would be next in line under the plan.
In the third phase, health officials anticipate distributing the vaccine to all other residents. The timeline for doing so was unclear.
“A widely available vaccine to all people of all ages is still months away,” Box said.
Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb said during a gubernatorial debate Tuesday night that he would not support requiring residents to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, but that he wanted to make sure it was quickly made available statewide.
“It shouldn’t be mandated but should be encouraged when it is safe,” Holcomb said. “We want to make sure that we’re ready to rock and roll when it does come to Indiana, getting it out to the front line, getting it out to the most vulnerable, getting it out to our schools and long-term care centers.”
Casey Smith is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.