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According to the ISDH’s most recent data chronicling the recent surge of COVID-19 infections, the vast majority of deaths are occurring among people who are not vaccinated.

Over the weekend, the Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH) reported the 94th and 95th COVID-19 deaths in Wabash County.

Since the pandemic began, Wabash County has now tallied more than 5,000 cases of COVID-19 total.

On Tuesday, ISDH deputy chief of staff and Office of Public Affairs director Jennifer O’Malley said with the dashboard now updating only at 5 p.m. weekdays, and not on weekends as they used to, Monday’s dashboard update will always reflect zero new deaths “because the dashboard captures information from the past 24 hours and is not updated over the weekend.”

“Deaths reported over the weekend are included in Tuesday’s totals. All deaths reported on the dashboard are those in which the death certificate lists COVID,” said O’Malley.

O’Malley said according to their most recent data chronicling the recent surge of COVID-19 infections, “the vast majority of deaths are occurring among people who are not vaccinated.”

According to the ISDH’s most recent data on COVID-19 in Indiana, for the week of Thursday, Sept. 30, there were 1,447 new hospital admissions, with all but around 10 of those being unvaccinated.

Of those who were hospitalized, 241 were admitted to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU), with all but around 10 of those being unvaccinated.

During that same week, the ISDH reported 219 total COVID-19 deaths in the state, with just over 10 of those being unvaccinated.

Local vaccination rates have continued lagging behind the state average. In the zip code 46992, which comprises Wabash, 42.2 percent of the eligible population has been vaccinated. Statewide, that figure sits at 56 percent.

But even as officials have struggled to get even the initial shots into the arms of Hoosiers, eligible populations in the state are now able to receive booster shots, as well.

In July, Pfizer proposed a third COVID-19 vaccine booster shot but was quickly rebuffed by the CDC and Food and FDA. In August, the FDA reversed course, at least somewhat, by authorizing an additional Pfizer or Moderna vaccine dose for certain immunocompromised individuals. Although, the FDA did not go so far as to say other fully vaccinated individuals also needed an additional dose.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Thursday, Sept. 23 recommended the administration of a booster dose of the Pfizer vaccine to counter waning immunity in specific populations following the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA’s) decision to expand its Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) to include the boosters.

On Friday, Sept. 24, the ISDH announced that booster doses of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine are available to eligible Hoosiers following federal authorization of the additional dose.

The single booster dose can be administered at least six months after completion of the second dose and applies only to individuals who previously received the Pfizer vaccine. Individuals who received the Moderna or Johnson & Johnson vaccines are not eligible at this time.

According to the CDC, individuals ages 65 and older and residents of long-term care facilities should receive a booster dose; individuals ages 50 to 64 with underlying medical conditions that put them at high risk of severe COVID-19 should receive a booster dose; individuals ages 18 to 49 with underlying medical conditions may receive a booster dose, based on their benefits and risks; and individuals ages 18 to 64 who are at high risk of COVID-19 exposure and transmission because of occupational or institutional risk of exposure may receive a booster shot based on their benefits and risks.

Eligible Hoosiers who want to obtain a booster dose can go to www.ourshot.in.gov and search for a site that has the Pfizer vaccine, which is designated by PVAX or call 211 for assistance. Hoosiers are encouraged to bring their vaccination card to their appointment to ensure that the booster dose is added.

Upon arriving at the vaccination clinic, Hoosiers will be asked to attest that they meet the eligibility requirements listed above. That attestation began being incorporated into the online appointment registration at www.ourshot.in.gov.

Rob Burgess, Wabash Plain Dealer editor, may be reached by email at rburgess@wabashplaindealer.com.