More than 611,000 Hoosiers have received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, and 166,000 Indiana residents are now fully vaccinated against the coronavirus, according to data released Wednesday by the Indiana Department of Health.
State Health Commissioner Dr. Kristina Box said another 144,000 Hoosiers between ages 65 and 69 have scheduled appointments to receive the vaccine since Monday when the minimum eligibility age was decreased from 70.
Altogether, data show more than 875,000 Hoosiers age 65 and older, Indiana health care workers, nursing home residents and staff, and first responders have received their first vaccine dose or scheduled an appointment.
WATCH NOW: Gov. Eric Holcomb COVID-19 briefing for Feb. 3, 2021
Box said that includes 56% of Hoosiers age 80 and older, 62% of Indiana residents age 70 to 79, and 46% of individuals in the 65 to 69 age group, along with 63% of the state's health care workers and first responders.
"It's incredibly gratifying to see the overwhelming interest in the vaccine," Box said. "And it's amazing to remember that just two months ago we didn't have a vaccine."
Hoosiers age 65 and older who want to receive the free vaccine can schedule an appointment online at ourshot.in.gov, or by calling 211.
Box said the state next is planning to expand vaccine eligibility to Hoosiers age 60 to 64 when officials are confident there will be sufficient vaccine supply coming from the federal government to cover that age group.
Indiana remains committed to an age-based distribution process through at least age 60 because Hoosiers age 60 and up account for approximately two-thirds of COVID-19 hospitalizations and 93% of COVID-19 deaths, Box said.
After that, Box suggested the next group to get the vaccine will be younger Hoosiers with significant medical conditions.
She said going instead to "essential workers" would be like opening the vaccine to everyone, since more than 2 million Hoosier workers would qualify.
"Our Vaccine Allocation Advisory Committee is a fluid group that is constantly studying what we know about this virus, how it's spreading, and who it kills," Box said. "But so, so much depends on how much vaccine we receive and the response of eligible Hoosiers.
"As long as vaccine supplies remain limited, we will continue to prioritize individuals who are most likely to be hospitalized, or die, from COVID-19."
Indiana on Wednesday passed the grim milestone of 10,000 COVID-19 deaths in the nearly 11 months since the first COVID-19 case was recorded in the Hoosier State on March 6, 2020.
However, Box said a recently completed year-end audit that matched death certificates listing COVID-19 as a cause or contributing factor in a death with a positive COVID-19 test result found Indiana undercounted COVID-19 deaths by 1,205 in 2020 and an additional 302 deaths so far in 2021.
Box said those 1,507 deaths will be added to the state's COVID-19 data dashboard Thursday, pushing the state's official COVID-19 death count over 11,500.
Separately, Gov. Eric Holcomb said Indiana is poised to again distribute millions of high-quality face masks and gallons of hand sanitizer to schools and critical infrastructure businesses.
"We know that these fairly simple steps can make fairly huge differences in outcomes," Holcomb said.
The additional supplies for schools, particularly face masks, correspond with the state eliminating the quarantine requirement for COVID-19 close contacts if students and teachers in a classroom remain at least 3 feet apart and wear a face mask at all times.
A 7- to 14-day quarantine remains as the policy for exposures that occur during lunch, athletics, band, or any other school setting where teachers and students have removed their face masks.
Box said the state also is providing at least 120 rapid COVID-19 tests to every school in the state to help school officials promptly determine whether symptomatic students actually have COVID-19.