JASPER COUNTY — State officials opened COVID-19 vaccination eligibility to all Indiana residents 30 and older on Monday, March 29.
Indiana’s latest age expansion makes the vaccine available to more than 840,000 additional Hoosiers, according to the Indiana Department of Health. The state previously limited eligibility to residents ages 40 and older as well as healthcare workers, long-term care residents, first responders and qualifying educators and school district employees.
Gov. Eric Holcomb also announced last week that beginning Wednesday, March 31, vaccine eligibility will open up for all residents 16 years and older.
Currently, only the Pfizer vaccine has been authorized for use for individuals younger than 18, meaning 16 and 17 year olds will receive that vaccine.
The Jasper County Health Department is administering the Moderna vaccine only at this time at its clinic at the county fairgrounds. The vaccine requires two doses administered 28 days apart. It typically takes a few weeks for the body to build immunity after the second vaccination.
JCHD did hold a Johnson & Johnson mass vaccination clinic March 20 at the fairgrounds clinic.
Holcomb said the decision to open up vaccine eligibility came after the federal government announced that Indiana should expect a large increase in its vaccine supply by the first week of April.
Eligible Indiana residents can schedule an appointment to receive a vaccine by visiting ourshot.in.gov or by calling 211 if they do not have access to a computer or require assistance.
According to the state health department, over 45% of 60- to 64-year-old Hoosiers have received the vaccine as of March 23. Under 30% of those ages 55-59 have been vaccinated, with 24.5% of those 50-54 receiving the vaccine.
For all age groups 65 and older, at least 60% of Hoosiers had their first dose.
Holcomb said this week that mass immunization clinics will be held at various sites throughout April.
Mask mandate in effect at schools
Rensselaer Central School Corporation Superintendent Curtis Craig offered a reminder that a mask mandate will remain in effect through the school year.
Though the statewide mask mandate becomes a mask advisory beginning April 6, all K-12 students, teachers and staff must keep their masks on as required by the Indiana State Department of Health.
Masks are also required in state buildings and COVID testing and vaccination sites. Counties, municipalities and businesses can still require masks, organizations can make decisions on masks and capacity levels at social gatherings, and customers in restaurants, bars and nightclubs are no longer required to be seated by ISDH standards, but six feet spacing is still recommended.
Craig also provided the following information on CDC’s recommendations in concert with the mask mandate at schools:
CDC now recommends that, with universal masking, students should maintain a distance of at least 3 feet in classroom settings — regardless of whether community transmission is low, moderate, substantial, or high.
• In middle and high schools, CDC also recommends students should be at least three feet apart in classrooms where mask use is universal and in communities where transmission is low, moderate, or substantial.
• Middle school students and high school students should be at least six feet apart in communities where transmission is high, if co-horting is not possible. Co-horting is when groups of students are kept together with the same peers and staff throughout the school day to reduce the risk for spread throughout the school. This is recommended because COVID-19 transmission dynamics are different in older students — that is, they are more likely to be exposed to SARS-CoV-2 and spread it than younger children.