Indiana COVID-19 Update: IN expands vaccine eligibility to all residents 16 and up

IN reports 1,127 new coronavirus cases, 10 deaths
INDIANAPOLIS (WLS) -- Indiana has opened COVID vaccine appointments to all residents 16 and older Wednesday.

Residents can make an appointment by dialing 211 or visiting the state website

Among the first younger recipients at a vaccination site in East Chicago was clinic volunteer Elder Guzman, who called it his "moment to shine."

"I do have people in my household that are more at risk than I am and to know that I can protect them and protect myself, is amazing," Guzman said.

Guzman is one of roughly 5.4 million Hoosiers who Indiana officials say are now eligible for their shot. Starting Wednesday, all Indiana residents 16 and older are can make an appointment for COVID-19 vaccines.

"If you're age 16 or 17, you can only receive the Pfizer vaccine, and we ask that you bring a parent or guardian to your appointment if at all possible," Indiana State Health Commissioner Dr. Kristina Box said.

The state is no longer requiring proof of residency to be FEMA compliant and to help people who may not have documents mailed to their address.

"And students at colleges and universities, or even some people in Indiana workplaces may live out of state but spend a significant amount of time in Indiana," Box said. "We want to remove any barrier."

Diana Garcia Burns, director of the East Chicago Health Department, called the vaccine expansion a "game changer" at a troubling inflection point.

"The more people that are vaccinated, the less likely the increase spread of disease," Garcia Burns said. "Our COVID cases are ticking upward, so it's important."

Indiana cases and hospitalizations are both trending up as Gov. Holcomb plans to shift the state mask mandate to an advisory starting April 6. Garcia Burns said East Chicago will still have a mask mandate in place.

Under the new order, masks will still be required in k-12 schools, state facilities and COVID testing and vaccination sites. Holcomb said Wednesday he's focused on making sure those who are sick can get care.

"The vaccine has a positive impact on that and our personal vigilance, each and every one of us," Holcomb said.

Officials continued to stress vigilance while making the pitch to young people to get the jab.

"I think a lot of our young people kind of want their life back," Box said.

CDC guidelines say fully vaccinated people do not need to quarantine. Officials say that getting the vaccine not only protects you, but it can also make it less likely that your vulnerable loved ones get sick, too.

Indiana reports 1,127 new cases

Indiana public health officials announced 1,127 new COVID-19 cases and 1additional deaths on Wednesday.

Overall, 12,633Indiana residents have died from COVID-19 and 686,497have contracted it since the start of the pandemic.

Health officials say the latest recorded seven-day positive COVID-19 test rate in the state is 3.9%. Health officials say there have been more than 8.9 million tests administered.
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