HAMILTON COUNTY, Ind. — The Indiana State Department of Health made COVID-19 vaccinations available to hundreds of thousands more Hoosiers Tuesday. Now, anyone 60 or older qualifies for the shots. Before Tuesday morning, it had been only been open to individuals 65 and older.
When Steve Miller found out he was suddenly eligible for a vaccination, the 62-year-old jumped online, landed an open reservation and was vaccinated right away. Miller felt more than lucky.
"I am eager for all this to get behind us, so I guess I am doing my part to make that happen." he said.
Lowering the eligible age to 60 opens clinic doors to more than 400,000 additional people. Within the first three hours, 63,000 more Hoosiers had already signed up. In the first eight hours, that number jumped to nearly 91,000.
"That tells me the demand for the vaccine is incredibly high, which we've seen from day one," said Christian Walker, the emergency preparedness director for the Hamilton County Health Department.
The Noblesville COVID-19 vaccine clinic is vaccinating 1,800 people per week. According to Walker, it could easily triple that amount. It has the room and staff to expand, but not enough vaccine.
"Our supply is not meeting demand right now, appointments are booked out to mid-March," Walker said.
Because of the shortage of vaccine, Indiana is sticking with its policy of vaccinating the most vulnerable people first. Hoosiers 60 and older account for less than one-fourth of the population but nearly two-thirds of hospitalizations and more than 90 percent of COVID deaths.
Nancy and Eric Brodt were elated to finally get their first shot. They've been waiting weeks — ever since the state lowered the qualifying age to 65.
"It gives me hope that I will be safe, and we made it this far without getting COVID," Nancy said. "Perhaps we can be out and about again."
But first, they will need the another shot. With hundreds of thousands of people lining up for vaccinations, many clinics are booked up through late March.