File-Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb delivers state of the state address

Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb delivers his State of the State address virtually Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2021, in Indianapolis.

(The Center Square) –Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb said there won’t be a COVID-19 vaccine mandate for children ages 5-11 for schools when the vaccine becomes available for youngsters.

He said the state would encourage children receive the vaccine as part of mitigation efforts.

“We think the information is compelling,” he told reporters at a press conference. “Mitigation efforts work. And there’s no better mitigation than being vaccinated.”

The press conference took place in the governor’s office in the Indiana Statehouse, where Holcomb, seated at his desk, rolled up his sleeve and got the flu vaccine in front of cameras, administered by Indiana State Health Commissioner Dr. Kristina Box.

Box said in the discussion of the COVID-19 vaccine for ages 5-11 the state wants to “get everyone vaccinated right now” to prevent a rise in hospitalizations, saying just over 3% of people hospitalized in the state for COVID-19 have been fully vaccinated while the rest have been unvaccinated.

“It is really critically important that people do get vaccinated, not only to protect ourselves, but to protect those little ones, the under 5-year-olds…” she said.

The Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting system shows 53 people ages 12-17 are reported to have been hospitalized in Indiana after receiving the vaccine.

The state is waiting for 200,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine for kids age 5-11, following the FDA’s approval on Friday of the emergency-use authorization for the Pfizer vaccine to be administered to this age group. The vaccine will be administered as a two-dose series, three weeks apart. But it is a lower dose -- 10 micrograms -- than the dose given to people 12 and up, which is 30 micrograms.

Box said she is expecting that there will be a rush of people wanting to vaccinate their children in these first few weeks, with the demand tapering off after this.

“Personally, I believe this first round will be definitely enough for everyone who is, like, waiting and excited to go get vaccinated,” she said.

She added that the state does not anticipate having any problems getting additional doses of the vaccine to meet demand, beyond the 200,000.

Indiana has approximately 600,000 kids between the ages of 5 and 11.