Indiana vaccine eligibility expanded to those 16 and up, mask mandate set to be lifted


Photo by Jeremy Hogan.

Gov. Holcomb participates in a roundtable discussion in Bloomington, IN on Dec. 15, 2020.

Fletcher Haltom, Opinion and Copy Editor

In the coming weeks, Indiana is set to both lift its mask mandate and expand eligibility for COVID-19 vaccines to include residents 16 and older, per a state address by Gov. Eric Holcomb on March 23. The decisions follow a declining trend of COVID-19 infections in Indiana, with the state reporting 698 daily infections as of March 22. 

Holcomb stated that Indiana’s positivity rate, positive cases, hospitalizations and deaths have all dramatically declined since January, all factors that contributed to his decision.

“And what’s been the real, life and death game-changer, has been access to vaccines,” Holcomb said.

In anticipation of the arrival of additional doses of all three major COVID-19 vaccines, Holcomb announced that the state will open up vaccine eligibility to all Hoosiers 16 and older beginning on March 31.

“Already, we have nearly 500 sites available throughout the state that are inoculating Hoosiers, and we’ll expand our reach by implementing a large employer vaccination program that has been in the planning stages for weeks now,” Holcomb said.

Additionally, the address stated that the state mask mandate will become an advisory beginning April 6, although citizens are still recommended to practice social distancing and keep contact with others to a minimum. Mask coverings will remain in place for all K-12 schools for the remainder of the school year.

“It’s my hope and expectation that our K-12 schools will provide full-time, in-person instruction for the 2021-2022 academic year using what they’ve learned and with the additional local, state and federal resources provided,” Holcomb said.

Holcomb added that he will continue to wear a face covering and practice social distancing when in public, practices that he encourages all citizens to take part in.

“When I visit my favorite restaurant or conduct a public event, I will continue to appropriately wear a mask. It is the right thing to do,” Holcomb said. “Hoosiers who take these recommended precautions will help us get to what I hope is the tail end of this pandemic.”