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Hoosiers 55 and older, high-risk patients eligible to sign up for COVID-19 vaccine

The Indiana State Department of Health's registration website listed people 55 years or older as eligible to sign up to get the vaccine Tuesday morning.

INDIANAPOLIS — NOTE: The above video explains how mRNA vaccines work.

Hoosiers 55 and older can now register to get the COVID-19 vaccine. The state is also allowing patients identified as highest risk for severe illness from COVID-19 by their health care provider. Those include:

  • Active dialysis patients
  • Sickle cell disease patients
  • Down syndrome patients
  • Post-solid organ transplant patients
  • People who are actively in treatment (chemotherapy, radiation, surgery) for cancer or were in the last three months, or with active primary lung cancer or active hematologic cancers (lymphoma, leukemia and multiple myeloma)

The Indiana State Department of Health expanded the eligibility Tuesday morning. The department's registration website listed people 55 years or older as eligible to sign up to get the vaccine Tuesday morning.

To date, more than a million Hoosiers have received a first dose of vaccine, and more than 500,000 are fully vaccinated.

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After 11 months of being shut inside her home, Lena Harvey is ready to reclaim the life she says she used to enjoy. 

“Usually, we’re out and about in the city, walking around Mass Ave. We’re up in Carmel and we’re down in Speedway. We’re all over the city,” she said. 

But that hasn’t been the case for nearly a year.   

Harvey has taken every precaution to avoid the virus, including quitting her job in bridal fashion and keeping her 8-year-old son Jaxson home to do virtual learning. 

She is high-risk because she was born with sickle cell anemia. 

“Sickle cell is an inherited blood disorder,” Harvey said, explaining that a person’s red blood cells are supposed to be donut shaped and carry oxygen throughout her body. Lena’s red blood cells are misshapen and sometimes stop moving, not carrying that oxygen to where it needs to go. 

Sometimes it’s gotten so bad, Harvey has had to be hospitalized, as she was just a few weeks ago. 

“Absolute pain,” Harvey described of how she felt. 

It means catching the coronavirus could be even worse for Lena. 

“For people like me, it’s deadly and I just won’t risk that because my son deserves to have his mother,” she said. 

That’s why the 36-year old is thrilled the state added sickle cell anemia, among other health conditions, to a list of those now eligible to get the COVID-19 vaccine, regardless of age. 

“I’m ready for the vaccine,” Harvey said. 

“Even though all the studies show kids in general seem to be less affected by COVID-19, we just don’t know how it can affect a child with Down syndrome,” said Natalie Palin, who, like Lena, has kept her family isolated as best she could this past year.  

Natalie’s 7-year-old son, Jackson, has Down syndrome. 

“It’s a huge relief for our community for the age group of people who can get the vaccine. Unfortunately, Jackson isn’t old enough,” Palin said. 

Even so, this mom has pushed to have caregivers of people with Down syndrome added to the list, writing letters to the governor and the health department.

“Just to know that we have that extra layer of protection at home that we could provide would definitely be a weight off our shoulders,” said Palin. 

It’s a weight Lena Harvey knows all too well. 

After a year of carrying that weight, like others with health conditions during this pandemic, she is ready to put it down. 

“I am so excited. I can’t stop thinking about it. I’m ready to get scheduled,” she said.

The vaccine is available at no cost, and appointments can be made by clicking here. Hoosiers who do not have access to a computer or cell phone or who need assistance with registration can call 211 or contact one of Indiana’s Area Agencies on Aging for assistance. A caregiver or loved one can make an appointment on behalf of an eligible senior. 

Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines requires two doses, and the appointment for the second dose will be made at the clinic when the first dose is administered.

The single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine was approved for emergency use by the Food and Drug Administration last week and is being shipped across the country.

Follow these steps to register online:

  • Go to vaccine.coronavirus.in.gov.
  • Select which group you belong to in order to qualify for the vaccine (health care worker, first responder, people 55 and older).
  • If you are registering by age, you must enter your date of birth for confirmation.
  • Enter your zip code, and click "Search."
  • Select a vaccine clinic available in your area.
  • Select the blue link that says "Schedule an Appointment" for your desired location.
  • Find a date with availability, and click "Select This Time."
  • Fill out the patient's information (name, date of birth, sex, contact information), and click "Submit Patient Information."

To find a vaccination site in the county where you live, click here.

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