Hoosier parents can schedule appointments beginning at 7 a.m. Thursday to get their children ages 5 to 11 protected against infection, hospitalization and death from COVID-19.
The Indiana Department of Health said appointments for the free pediatric COVID-19 vaccine can be made online at ourshot.in.gov, or by calling 211.
On Tuesday, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention gave final authorization to administer the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine to younger children following extensive testing and review. The Pfizer vaccine has been authorized for children age 12 and up since mid-May.
"Having a COVID-19 vaccine available to our younger Hoosiers is a game changer in terms of our efforts to keep children healthy and in school for in-person learning," said Dr. Kristina Box, the state health commissioner.
"Fully vaccinated individuals do not have to quarantine if they are exposed but have no symptoms, so I encourage parents to get their children vaccinated if they are eligible."
Federal rules require individuals under age 18 receive only the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, and the dose for ages 5-11 is lower than the dosage for ages 12 and up.
As a result, the state health agency recommends any parent searching the ourshot.in.gov website starting Thursday for a pharmacy, health clinic, hospital, or other facility to get their younger child vaccinated should look for locations administering the pediatric Pfizer vaccine.
There is no cost to receive the vaccine, or the second dose required three weeks later for full immunity. Indiana residency also is not required to be vaccinated in the Hoosier State.
Indiana health officials are cautioning, however, that pediatric vaccine supplies may initially be limited as shipments arrive on a staggered basis.
They're urging Hoosier parents to make an appointment, or call ahead, to ensure a site has the pediatric COVID-19 vaccine available prior to visiting the location.
Consent from a parent or guardian is required for a child to receive the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, and children under age 16 must be accompanied to the vaccination appointment by an adult.
Records show nearly 3.4 million Hoosiers age 12 and up, or 57.5% of the state's eligible population, are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, including 56.3% of eligible Lake County residents, 61.8% in Porter County, and 56.4% in LaPorte County.
That's helped reduce the spread of the virus, particularly in Northwest Indiana. Both Lake and Porter County were classified as yellow Wednesday by the state health agency, one notch above the best-possible blue rating; while LaPorte County remained orange, one notch below the worst-possible red rating.
Statewide, a majority of counties were rated yellow, followed closely by orange. LaGrange County, which has the lowest vaccination rate in the state at 26.3%, was rated red, along with Grant County. Fayette County was the sole blue county.
According to the Indiana Department of Health, unvaccinated individuals account for 98.3% of Indiana's 1.02 million total COVID-19 infections, 99.97% of COVID-19 hospitalizations, and 99.98% of COVID-19 deaths since the first coronavirus case was diagnosed in the Hoosier State on March 6, 2020.