President Joe Biden is hoping the U.S. can hit a 70% vaccination rate by the Fourth of July.
Based on current vaccination rates and future projections, Indiana isn’t likely to even come close to that by July 4, much less by the end of the year.
A new forecast by an Indiana economist who has been tracking and studying COVID-19 in the state extensively projects Indiana will barely crack 60% vaccination rate by the end of 2021.
Indiana continues to lag other states in vaccination rate and many rural areas of the state, including the four-county area in northeast Indiana, are currently sitting at vaccination rates in the 30% range.
As of Friday, about 44% of all eligible Hoosiers 12 years old and older are fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
That number is low for the time being as those age 12-15 can’t be fully vaccinated yet as not enough time has elapsed since they received their first dose of a Pfizer vaccine. The first fully-vaccinated 12-15-year-olds should start showing up around mid-month, as the vaccinated was OK’d for use in Indiana starting on May 13 and second doses are taken about a month after the first.
Among Hoosiers 16 and older, who have been eligible to receive vaccines since the first week of April, is only marginally higher, however, at just under 47%.
New vaccinations to first-time recipients in Indiana had fallen below 10,000 per day during the final week of May and continues to trend downward.
This week, Micah Pollak, associate professor of economics at Indiana University Northwest, projected vaccination rates through the end of 2021 in an effort to visualize when the state might hit new milestones on its vaccination rate.
The results fall far short of the White House’s expectations for Independence Day.
Based on Pollak’s analysis, Indiana is likely to widely miss the 70% goal by July 4, hitting just 50% vaccination status by mid-July. Reaching 60% total vaccination rate likely won’t occur until around mid-December.
Pollak’s long-range forecast factors in that all Hoosiers, including those younger than 12, could become eligible for vaccines around September, which could give a short-term boost to vaccinations in fall but that would quickly fade as has been seen when other age groups have been opened to vaccine distribution.
But even disregarding continuing slowdowns and new vaccine eligibility, Pollak’s analysis shows that even if Indiana were to keep up a constant, linear rate of about 8,900 new Hoosiers per day becoming fully vaccinated, the state wouldn’t hit 60% vaccination rate until Dec. 12.
“So, unless there is some significant unexpected shift in how uptake is happening, we probably shouldn’t expect to hit 60% of the population (all ages) in #Indiana vaccinated for #COVID19 until the end of the year,” Pollak wrote in his tweet thread explaining his projection.
One factor that could impact vaccine uptake in the future, Pollak noted, is whether the COVID-19 vaccines receive full approval from the Food and Drug Administration yet this year.
Currently all three available vaccines, the two-dose shots manufacturered by Pfizer and Moderna and the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine, are all being distributed under Emergency Use Authorizations.
Some populations have expressed hesitation at taking the vaccine ahead of full approval, while others have labeled the vaccine as “experimental” due to its current emergency use status despite the shots going through the same clinical testing applicable to any vaccine.
Others have questioned what long-term effects may result from the vaccines, which are questions vaccine producers have to answer as part of the full-approval process.
Pfizer and Moderna have both applied for full FDA approval in recent weeks.
In order to get emergency approval, vaccine manufacturers had to conduct clinical trials and report results on both efficacy and safety of the vaccine, proving effectiveness in preventing diseases and reporting side effects associated with the shot and prevalence.
To gain full approval, vaccine manufacturers have to provide more long-range information about their vaccines about effectiveness and adverse effects gathered from continuing study of their clinical trial participants.
All three vaccines currently in use have show high effectiveness in preventing severe illness and deaths. Rates of serious side effects are extremely low, although people may suffer milder adverse effects including, most commonly, injection site pain, redness, fatigue or fever after receiving a vaccine.
Side effects appear more common after a second injection, which would be consistent with the body mounting an immune response to injection.
Indiana health officials have also been working toward breaking down barrier to vaccine access in order to encourage more people who haven’t received the shot to get it.
Locally, health departments have been reaching out to large industries to set up shot clinics for employees who may still need the vaccine.
State health officials had also stated they are working toward getting vaccines to primary care physicians, in hopes that family doctors could serve as a trusted source for people who might be on the fence about the vaccine, allowing those physicians to answer questions and provide information in a one-on-one setting with patients during annual physicals or other well-care visits.
That hasn’t happened yet, as vaccine distribution in Indiana continues to occur primarily through county health department and other private businesses such as local pharmacies.