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Hoosiers 80+ line up for COVID-19 vaccinations

People 80 and older account for more than half of Indiana's COVID-19 deaths.

INDIANAPOLIS — Tens of thousands of elderly Hoosiers are lining up to receive the potentially lifesaving COViD-19 vaccinations.

Shirley Kirby couldn't wait to get a shot in the arm.

"Cause I'm stuck in the house all the time," she said.

Friday, when state health officials offered vaccinations to Hoosiers 80 and older, Kirby's daughter signed her up right away. It was a huge relief for the 84-year-old.

"Very much, very much to get this and know that I will be safe," Kirby said.

Credit: WTHR
Shirley Kirby, 84, receiving her first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine in Indianapolis on Jan. 11, 2021.

The number of daily vaccinations at the IU Health Methodist Hospital jumped at least 30 percent since Indiana's octogenarians became eligible. People 80 and older account for more than half of Indiana's COVID-19 deaths.

"It means a lot to be caring for them," said RN Kristen Kelley, director of infection. "It really feels like we are saving lives."

Almost 24,000 health care workers have now received the required second dose of the vaccine. Jason Maxwell is a flight medic.

"It is a big relief. We are finely coming to the end of this," Maxwell said. "We have been dealing with this for almost a year."

Vaccinating enough people to break the nationwide pandemic is expected to take half a year.

Supplies of the vaccines are still limited. The goal is waste not a single potentially lifesaving dose.

Kelly helps run the clinic and figures they've vaccinated 10,000 people and wasted less than ten doses of the vaccine.

IU Health keeps an on-call list of workers ready to receive any unused doses. They take additional steps if necessary.

"We will walk over the hospitals and find eligible frontline team members to give some of the extra doses to," Kelley said.

State health officials haven't decided yet when the next age groups of Hoosiers will be eligible to get vaccinated. It will likely depend on the supply of vaccines and how quickly seniors in Kirby's age group get their shots in the arm.

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