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As additional doses of vaccine become available, Indiana is opening up access to shots at a faster pace.
On Tuesday, state health officials announced that people ages 55 to 59 can now make vaccination appointments at the nearly 400 vaccination clinics across the state. People can make appointments online at ourshot.in.gov or by calling 211.
Last Tuesday, the state extended an invitation for those 60 and older to be vaccinated, more than three weeks after offering people ages 65 to 69 this opportunity.
Bad weather, which caused the cancellation of vaccine clinics and delayed shipments, prevented Indiana from advancing to the 60- to 64-year-old group as soon as they had to, state health officials have said.
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But with a variety of vaccine sites to choose from, state health officials are trying to persuade as many people as possible to sign up to be vaccinated. Last week, the Indiana Department of Health held 10 mobile clinics to reach them in non-profit areas.
Sunday’s approval of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which requires only one dose and does not need to be refrigerated, only further increased the possibility for states to extend eligibility to wider pools of people.
People on dialysis who have had organ transplants, have certain cancers, sickle cell anemia and Down syndrome are also eligible to be vaccinated.
In a sign that sites expect more vaccine to flow, Veteran Health Indiana will now vaccinate any veteran over the age of 18.
In an effort to have more vaccine available to Hoosiers, the state last week restricted vaccinations to residents of Indiana. About 17,000 out-of-state residents, mostly working in Indiana, had received the vaccine.
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Some have reported difficulty scheduling appointments in the first few hours after a new group qualifies. The day after appointments were opened for the 60 to 64, nearly 40% of Indiana residents in this age range were either vaccinated or made appointments to do so. Last week, 63% of the 65-69 and 70% of the population aged 70-79 had a vaccine appointment or were scheduled for one.
On Monday, the state passed one million marks for the first doses of the vaccine.
Clinic at Indianapolis Motor Speedway
The Indiana Department of Health will host three mass vaccination clinics for eligible Indiana residents across the state starting this week, including one at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
The IMS Clinic, held this week, will be followed by a next week at Ivy Tech Community College in Sellersburg and then one towards the end of the month at the University of Notre Dame.
All three clinics are delivering the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which was approved for emergency use over the weekend, state health officials said in a press release.
Unlike the two previously approved vaccines, which require two doses, the J&J vaccine consists of only one shot.
However, studies suggest that it does not work as well as the other two vaccines. The J&J vaccine is approx. 72% effective against COVID-19, while the other two are more than 94% effective.
It is still higher than flu vaccines, according to Marion County health officials, which they have said are about 60% effective.
An agreement is required for the mass clinics.
The IMS clinic runs from 8 to 22 Friday to Sunday. Participants enter through the main gate from 16th St. at 4790 W. 16th St. and stay in their cars.
The Sellersburg Clinic runs from March 12 to 13, and the Notre Dame Unit, held at the University’s Compton Family Ice Arena, will be held March 26-27.
An additional clinic may be held in Gary in the future, state health officials say.
Veterans aged 18 and over are eligible
Veterans of the state 18 and older can sign up for the shot.
Last week, enrolled veterans 45 years and older receiving care through VA were able to enroll in the vaccine at Indianapolis Veteran Affairs Medical Center, according to Veteran Health Indiana’s Facebook page.
By that time, Indianapolis VA had vaccinated more than 15,000 veterans.
On Monday, VA opened access to 18 and over, according to the Facebook page. Some designated caregivers are also eligible to receive the vaccine, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
Veterans already enrolled can call (317) 988-4899 to schedule an appointment.
Those who are not enrolled or do not receive care through VA learn more about eligibility at va.gov/health-care/eligibility/.
Contact IndyStar reporter Shari Rudavsky at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Facebook and on Twitter: @srudavsky.
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