FISHERS — Next month marks two years since the first COVID-19 shots went into arms. Today, the CDC recommends all Americans over the age of 5 get the updated booster dose, but that does not necessarily mean people are actually going to do it.
Just before closing on Monday afternoon, it was a mad rush at the Fishers Health Department clinic. Health professionals there offer influenza and COVID-19 vaccines, as well as COVID-19 testing.
Vaccine appointments are steady at the Hamilton County clinic, according to Fishers Public Health Director Monica Heltz. Some 16% of Fishers neighbors over six months of age are “up to date” with COVID-19 vaccinations.
“We've done a lot of work with our community just to make sure everyone understood the importance of the vaccine and made those vaccines available so that everyone has easy access,” Heltz said.
That is not the case statewide, though. Less than 10% of Hoosiers are up to date in the COVID-19 vaccination series — meaning they have the initial series plus the most recent booster. This is according to the Indiana Department of Health. Nationwide, the number jumps slightly to 12% of Americans.
“We're also quick to upgrade our phones or laptops, things like that when they go obsolete or they're out of date and it's just time that we upgrade our vaccinations,” Dearth said.
Experts say access and education are two factors as to why the numbers are low.
“We need to make it part of our regular health care routine. We get our annual vaccinations that might be sometimes the booster for something like this. And we need to keep that on our plate as we go forward,” Dearth said.
Epidemiologist Shandy Dearth reminds Hoosiers, the goal of the vaccine is to prevent hospitalizations, not mild infections.
“If you can get a free, easy vaccine and avoid all of that, it’s in everyone’s favor to do so,” Dearth said.
Dearth notes it is not too late to get a COVID-19 bivalent booster. The epidemiologist urges Hoosiers to do so as other illnesses including RSV and influenza are on the rise.