Exclusive: Governor Holcomb talks about the expanded vaccine rollout and his plans for 2021
SOUTH BEND, Ind. --- Moving into 2021, i’s full speed ahead for Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb.
The top priority? Getting as many doses of the coronavirus vaccine as possible into Hoosier arms.
"We're going to get through this as fast as we can. The only thing we want more of is more doses and we’re not alone. That’s true in any state and any country in the world,” Holcomb said.
Just two hours after the state’s vaccination signup website got up and running Friday, 17,000 Hoosiers above the age of 80 were signed up to get their first shots.
Indiana is taking an aged-based approach to getting the general public immunized. That’s going against guidelines from the CDC that essential workers like teachers and grocery store employees receive priority over those above the age of 65.
“Tiffany: this is a departure from federal recommendations, can you talk about why you feel this is the best plan for Indiana moving forward? Holcomb: in short, we’re prioritizing our most at-risk population. When you look at this across the board no matter where you are in the state of Indiana, this holds up.”
People aged 80 and older only account for about 4 percent of the population but the age group shockingly makes up for 52 percent of COVID-19 deaths.
The next groups eligible for vaccination will be those aged 70 and above then 60 and above.
“If we can keep people out of the hospital, keep people from getting the virus in the first place at those older ages, and then step that back, it’s not only going to save lives it’s going to keep people out of the hospital,” Holcomb said.
Governor Holcomb’s agenda for 2021 includes five main pillars: economy, infrastructure, education and workforce development, public health and good government.
Under the good government pillar, Holcomb includes plans to increase opportunities for minorities hit especially hard by the pandemic.
For all Hoosiers, Holcomb says job growth and assistance programs will be key to getting people back on their feet.
“This is the split screen of it all, we have brought in a record number of new job commitments to the state of Indiana,” Holcomb said. “I’m trying to get people to take advantage of the resources that are there so they get to determine how far they want to go.”
As for getting Indiana back to “normal,” Holcomb is in no rush. He stopped short of giving any hard timelines but is confident with the vaccine rollout plan in place Indiana will move forward.
“We are where we are and what we need to do is make sure we have the infrastructure in place, we do. Make sure we have the capacity to accommodate with the resources that we wave, the vaccines that we have, to get it into arms, which we do.”
Data show Indiana to be slower than some other states in using vaccine shipments but with the states rollout plan for the general public kicking off Friday morning they expect the stockpile to be used up pretty quickly.