Indiana surpassed 3 million fully vaccinated Hoosiers Friday. The milestone comes as the state sees a slight uptick – a little less than double – in the weekly average of Hoosiers getting their initial shot.
But what – if anything – can state and county health officials do to get Indiana closer to herd immunity? Jon Macy, Indiana University School of Public Health assistant professor, said it comes back to economic and systemic barriers.
“Making sure that people know where to go to get vaccinated, that it’s easy for them to get a vaccine, that they don’t have to worry about missing work … or that they’re concerned that the day after that they’re going to have side effects that require them to take some time off from work – if that’s a barrier to getting the vaccine, that’s a real problem,” he said.
To that end, Macy said that plays out across the state – counties with greater wealth have higher vaccine coverage. Gov. Eric Holcomb’s messaging has largely ignored these socioeconomic disparities.
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Macy said figuring out how to address those barriers will not only help with the current pandemic, but other health crises in the future.
Indiana is reporting more cases per day of COVID-19 than any time since January, when the state’s vaccine rollout began. In the past week alone, the seven-day average number of Hoosiers in hospitals with COVID-19 has jumped nearly 30 percent.
At the same time, the weekly average of new vaccinations has grown by about 75 percent since the beginning of July.
Macy said that makes sense – perceived threats motivate people to take action.
“As people have learned more about the delta variant – what that has meant for more severe infections and it being more easily transmissible – that has likely motivated more people to take action,” he said.
Indiana continues to lag behind our immediate neighbors – with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reporting nearly 44.9 percent of Indiana’s total population fully vaccinated.
That compares to 46.4 percent in Kentucky, 47.1 percent in Ohio, and 49.4 percent in Michigan and Illinois.