INDIANAPOLIS — First-time vaccine recipients in Indiana hit their lowest one-week total this past week, reaching the lowest point since early July.
Vaccine uptake didn’t hit an all-time low in the four-county area, but did drop again compared to a week ago as new vaccinations continue to slow.
Statewide COVID-19 is coming down off the delta-variant-driven surge that started in July and last through the middle of September, when it hit a peak. Cases, hospitalizations and deaths have started to fall and, apparently, vaccine uptake along with it too.
Across Indiana, 22,725 Hoosiers came in for their first dose of a vaccine this past week, whether that be a two-shot Pfizer or Moderna vaccine or a single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
That’s the lowest one-week total since distribution started earlier this year, even below the 23,677 set the week ended July 9, which would have also been lower than usual due to closures for the Fourth of July holiday.
As the delta variant began surging in July and through August and September, vaccine uptake did pick up slightly, but never increased sharply even as cases and hospitalizations were rising rapidly.
Weekly first-time vaccine numbers held steady at about 42,000-47,000 per week from the end of July through early September, but have since fallen off again.
Locally, 361 people in the four-county area received their first vaccine this past week. That’s down from 405 people the week prior, but still above the all-time weekly low of 290 back on the week ended July 9.
DeKalb County led this week with 117 first-timers, followed by Noble County at 109, Steuben County with 72 and LaGrange County with 63.
Statewide, 57.36% of eligible Hoosiers age 12 and older are fully vaccinated, while 48.19% of all Hoosiers, including those younger than 12 who can’t get shots yet, are immunized.
Indiana ranks 14th worst in the nation for vaccination rate, more than 20 percentage points behind the nation’s most-vaccinated state, Vermont.
Locally, northeast Indiana trails well behind the state average, with counties trailing by 10 percentage points or more.
Steuben County has 47.23% of its eligible population fully vaccinated, followed by DeKalb County at 43.6%, Noble County at 42.27% and LaGrange County last in the state at 25.62%.
As has been the case through the delta-driven surge in activity over the last three months, the majority of the impact was suffered by people who hadn’t been vaccinated.
In September, more than 80% of new cases came from the state’s unvaccinated half, while more than 90% of the more than 4,700 people hospitalized were unvaccinated. More than 80% of the 1,116 deaths logged in September were also unvaccinated people.
Not only did vaccinated Hoosiers suffered breakthrough cases more rarely, those who did end up contracting the virus even after vaccination suffered milder cases.
Hosptialization rates for vaccinated people suffering breakthroughs was about 2% of cases, compared to about 5% for the state’s unvaccinated cohort.
That’s despite Indiana’s vaccinated population skewing far older, with more than 80% of people age 70 and up being vaccinated. Older people suffer far greater baseline risk of hospitalization and death than younger people, but even older people experiencing a breakthrough were less likely to end up seriously ill.
Vaccine booster shots of Pfizer vaccine are now available to Hoosiers 65 and older who previously had two doses of Pfizer more than six months ago. The boosters are aimed at bolstering the body’s immune response and providing longer-ranger protection from the virus.
Boosters are not available to people who had Johnson & Johnson’s one-shot vaccine or the other two-dose shot from Moderna, which was the vaccine being most commonly distributed in northeast Indiana during the state’s initial vaccine blitz earlier this year