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Indiana health leaders pushing COVID-19 vaccines as omicron variant stretches state hospitals thin

Indiana health leaders pushing COVID-19 vaccines as omicron variant stretches state hospitals thin
Published: Dec. 29, 2021 at 9:09 PM EST
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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (WAVE) - As the omicron variant of COVID-19 continues to spread across the country, Indiana’s health leaders continue to push Hoosiers to take the vaccines.

Governor Eric Holcomb told reporters Wednesday the combination of the Delta and Omicrons variants has “whacked” the state, straining the hospitals more than ever before.

Chief Medical Officer Dr. Lindsay Weaver said 80 percent of Hoosiers currently in hospitals are unvaccinated against the virus.

According to Weaver, 3.5 million Hoosiers are considered fully vaccinated, while 1.3 million of those people have received their boosters. She said data shows protection against the virus goes from 35-75 percent after the booster shot.

Holcomb encouraged those are vaccinated to talk to their friends and families over the holidays.

“How you would trust your ability to fight that off instead of trust in an American-made vaccine that is proven overwhelmingly statistically that is saving lives,” Holcomb said. “And if you can appeal to folks who are skeptical of the efficacy of the vaccine, please do that. You may be the person someone trusts that is holding out.”

Weaver also told reporters the state’s hospital census is higher than it’s been in five years, while hospitals across Indiana currently have 1,500 more patients than they did during 2020′s peak.

”We’re optimistic for the future,” Weaver said. “We have vaccines readily available; we’re getting more treatment options. We do think that the next several weeks to a month are going to be difficult, with the decreased supply and we know that there’s going to be a significant rise in cases. But we need to all do everything that we can, like the governor said, and do our role and take a part and try communicate with our friends and families and get more people on board with protecting not only themselves, but each other.”

State Health Commissioner Dr. Kristina Box told reporters Wednesday the hospital surge has caused more healthcare workers to leave their professions.

”Quite honestly, we will continue to lose more nurses and respiratory therapists and physicians from the healthcare profession, and we were already short,” Dr. Kristina Box said. “So if this continues, and Dr. Weaver and I are incorrect, then we will have significant issues going forward with being able to staff our hospitals. And you can only use the Indiana National Guard and Federal resources for so long.”

That said, health leaders believe more help is on the way.

Weaver said the state has begun shipping Merck’s and Pfizer’s anti-viral COVID pills to CVS and Walgreens pharmacies across the state.

The first case of the Omicron variant was confirmed in Indiana 11 days ago. Currently the Delta variant is still the dominant strain, but state health leaders expect that to change soon.

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