Health conditions, not age, to determine vaccine eligibility under age 60

INDIANAPOLIS (Network Indiana): The next group of Hoosiers to get the coronavirus vaccine will be those ages 60 to 65. It’s not clear who comes after that.

With vaccine supplies limited, Indiana has been prioritizing those at most risk of serious illness or death. State health commissioner Kristina Box says old age has far outweighed every other factor — people over 60 account for about two of every 10 COVID-19 cases, but nine out of 10 deaths.

Right now, the state is vaccinating people 65 and up, plus health care workers and first responders. But below age 60, Box says some underlying health conditions may put younger patients at comparable risk. She lists dialysis patients, transplant recipients, and people with sickle-cell disease as prime candidates to move up the line.

Box says the state is also talking to cancer specialists about the risk to their patients, especially those starting chemotherapy. And eventually, she says, Indiana could look at more common health conditions, including diabetes, high blood pressure, and obesity.

Indiana’s vaccine advisory panel is reviewing risk data and will decide who comes next. Box notes it’s a purely academic question until more vaccine becomes available.

The Biden administration has increased Indiana’s weekly allocation to 100-thousand doses, but there are 750,000 Hoosiers in their 60s. The state just started vaccinating people over 65 on Monday, and another 400,000 between 60 and 65 are still waiting their turn.

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