Indiana may get COVID vaccine by November

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Federal officials have indicated a COVID-19 vaccine could be shipped to Indiana by mid- to late November, Indiana’s health commissioner has said.

The first vaccine is likely to be a two-dose version from Pfizer, Dr. Kristina Box said during a news conference Wednesday. This vaccine requires “ultra-low storage,” meaning it has to be stored at minus 70 degrees. The state is determining where it can store that vaccine as well as identifying vaccination sites, Box said.

A second vaccine from Moderna is expected to arrive in Indiana by mid-December, Box continued, although that vaccine’s timeline is a “rapidly developing situation, so a lot is subject to change.”

“We do not know how much Indiana will receive yet, but we expect the supply to be limited in the beginning,” Box said.

Neither vaccine has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration, and multiple vaccine candidates are still undergoing trials. The Indiana State Department of Health has submitted its plan for distributing a vaccine to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In Indiana’s phased approach, healthcare workers and vulnerable individuals will be the first to receive the vaccine. People who can’t work from home, including teachers, food service workers, firefighters and police officers, would be next in line under the plan.

In the third phase, health officials anticipate distributing the vaccine to all other residents. The timeline for doing so was unclear.

“A widely available vaccine to all people of all ages is still months away,” Box said.

Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb said during a gubernatorial debate Tuesday night that he would not support requiring residents to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, but that he wanted to make sure it was quickly made available statewide.

“It shouldn’t be mandated but should be encouraged when it is safe,” Holcomb said. “We want to make sure that we’re ready to rock and roll when it does come to Indiana, getting it out to the front line, getting it out to the most vulnerable, getting it out to our schools and long-term care centers.”


Casey Smith is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.

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‘Medicated’ Halloween edibles resembling name-brand candy prompt Indiana State Police warning

Parents in Indiana have been warned to be extra vigilant with any Halloween candy given to their young trick-or-treaters this year.

In a recent Facebook post, the Indiana State Police shared photos of seized holiday edibles featuring packaging that resembles that of actual name brands — but with the word “medicated” printed on the wrapper along with cannabis symbols. 

“Parents, here is an example of what to look for in your child’s Halloween candy this year,” the post reads. “These were seized just this past weekend by one of our Troopers from the Lowell post. While they are packaged and marketed to look like candy, they are not.”


“Please thoroughly check all candy and don’t assume it’s ‘OK’ just because it looks ‘OK,’” the post continued. “Thank you to Sgt. Glen Fifield, PIO for the ISP post in Lowell for this information.”

“The post was made as a reminder for parents to take an extra moment to carefully check their children’s Halloween candy because sometimes things aren’t always as they seem,” Capt. Ron Galaviz, chief public information officer for the Indiana State Police, told Fox News, 

Another cause for concern: It remains unclear where these fraudulently branded edibles are manufactured considering neither are legitimate Starburst Gummies or Skittles, which are owned by Mars Wrigley.


“These are not official Mars products as they were not created nor supported by the company,” a company spokesperson confirmed for Fox News. “We’re taking action to protect our consumers and are looking into the entity that is utilizing our brand names on these products.“

In a separate edible-related incident from last year, two children were given THC-infused gummies while trick-or-treating, according to police in Waterford, Conn.

THC is the main active ingredient linked to the psychedelic effects of cannabis – the plant from which marijuana is derived; and its affects could have a negative impact on children, according to The Journal of Pediatric Pharmacology and Therapeutics.


The journal’s “Cannabinoids in Pediatrics” study found that although there are some clinical uses for THC and CBD for certain medical conditions, children have been increasingly ingesting these compounds by accident in recent years. Researchers who worked on the limited study took into account pediatric hospitalizations and poison control calls made between 2005 and 2011, and suggested the incidents could be connected to the decriminalization of marijuana.


Patients of accidental ingestions experienced symptoms such as lethargy, ataxia and respiratory insufficiency. Only two instances required admission into pediatric intensive care units in that six-year span.

Aside from marijuana-related edibles and any other potential candy tampering, parents and children will have to deal with the coronavirus pandemic this Halloween.


The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention encourage virtual celebrations over in-person gatherings.

However, for those

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IU School of Medicine partnering to increase greater access to psychiatric care in Northwest Indiana | Local News


Indiana University Northwest

MERRILLVILLE — A new partnership is seeking to bring greater access to psychiatric care in Northwest Indiana.

The IU School of Medicine in collaboration with the Northwest Indiana GME Consortium is launching a new psychiatry resident program at IU Northwest to train psychiatrists in a four-year program.

The program, accredited by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education, will accept four residents each year.

IUN to offer degree exploration, admissions advice in virtual open house

It is the first psychiatry residency program in northern Indiana and the third in the IU School of Medicine, IU School of Medicine Northwest — Gary campus director Elizabeth Ryan said in a news release.

“The program contributes to a goal of recruiting medical students to the Northwest-Gary campus, upon medical school graduation transitioning to a Northwest Indiana-located residency program and retaining these physicians to serve in the Region,” Ryan said.

The United States Health Resources and Services Administration has designated Northwest Indiana as a high-needs geographic health professional shortage area, according to an IU School of Medicine news release.

250% spike in NWI COVID cases, rising positivity rates indicate worst is yet to come, professor says

The program’s partners say they hope the new cohort can help ease this gap.

Residents in the new program will be integrated into the network of Northwest Indiana GME Consortium partners, like Regional Health Systems in Merrillville.

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Deborah Birx advises Indiana on curbing spread


Indiana and Indianapolis have spent millions to hire contact tracers to reach out to people infected with the coronavirus and others they have been in contact with to help stop the spread. Here’s how that works.


Local health authorities should look to universities for examples of the best way to deal with current coronavirus outbreaks, government experts told Southern Indiana officials at meetings earlier this week.

Dr. Deborah Birx of the White House Coronavirus Task Force met with hospital staff and county officials from the southwest and southeast corners of the state, which have seen their coronavirus cases, positivity rates, and hospitalizations climb dramatically.

Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin and Minnesota have all seen coronavirus spread in rural areas, Birx said in a telephone interview with IndyStar on Friday. She said she has been meeting with officials in rural areas to ensure that they are aware of how serious the virus can be. People living in rural areas may be wrongly assuming that because they do not live in crowded surroundings they are safe from infection. 

“We really talked about how much spread there is again in the rural area and our concern that individuals in rural areas sometimes believe that they’re naturally socially distanced,” she said. “Often rural communities have smaller community hospitals that can easily get overrun.”

While statewide more than 30% of intensive care unit beds are currently available, in the southwestern corner of the state just under 21% are open, and in the southeastern corner of the state just 11% of beds are open.

Some communities might consider following in the footsteps of universities that have implemented randomized testing programs to find asymptomatic students and quarantine them, which helps curb the spread of the virus, Birx said.

“Because they’re able to find that silent spread, they can do that 10-day isolation of asymptomatic students and prevent that community spread,” she said.

Communities might decide to use the new federal antigen tests being provided to states to conduct random weekly surveillance among populations such as first responders, police, prison staff, health care workers and others to try to ferret out the coronavirus.

Universities that have such programs in place have done a better job at controlling virus spread than others that do not have such programs, Birx said. But even with such programs, campuses such as the University of Michigan and the University of Notre Dame have seen recent spikes in cases due to parties and other social gatherings.         

Off-campus many cases of the coronavirus also trace back to smaller gatherings with friends and family members when people let down their guard and their masks, Birx said. She said persuading people to take the steps known to prevent virus spread — wearing a mask, watching social distance, and washing hands — can be challenging, especially because people may be infected and not realize it.

“That concept of being infectious but not showing any symptoms is still a difficult concept,” Birx said. “That is hard for people to

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Indiana nursing homes will receive help from National Guard


The older, sicker residents in Indiana nursing homes make the environments particularly susceptible to the coronavirus. But there are other reasons why the disease has been so lethal there.

Indianapolis Star

Gov. Eric Holcomb announced on Wednesday that he would send members of the Indiana National Guard into nursing homes to help an “exhausted” staff care for residents.

The announcement comes as long-term care facilities are experiencing a surge of cases and deaths. To date, 2,205 residents of nursing homes or assisted living facilities in Indiana have died of COVID-19, about 58% of coronavirus deaths statewide.

Beginning on Nov. 1, the National Guard will help with tasks such as staff screenings, data entry and testing to allow long-term care staff more time to directly care for residents. Facilities currently experiencing outbreaks will be the first to receive the aid.

Staff, residents and families are “simply, like so many, overwhelmed by the scale and pace that this virus can take on,” Holcomb said during the state’s weekly coronavirus press conference. “There is fatigue there. You’re seeing that; we’re hearing that when you’re on the ground.”

IndyStar investigation: Nursing home residents suffer as county hospitals rake in millions

But that fatigue should not necessarily come as a surprise. The pandemic exacerbated what was already a chronic problem revealed in an IndyStar investigation, published back in March.

Even before the pandemic, Indiana’s nursing home facilities were significantly understaffed, on average ranking 48th in the nation according to an analysis of federal data by IndyStar. Poor staffing at the state’s homes is one of the reasons AARP rates Indiana’s elder care system dead last in the country. The IndyStar investigation found several instances where poor staffing was cited as contributing to injury or death at Indiana facilities.

The use of the National Guard is one of several steps the state announced to prevent the spread of the disease in long-term care facilities and to maintain hospital capacity, one of the state’s four guiding principles for reopening. The state has twice as many Hoosiers hospitalized with COVID-19 today compared to late June and early July, said Dr. Lindsay Weaver, chief medical officer of the state health department.

The state will also connect facilities with clinical workers through its health care reserve program, which pairs retired or out-of-work health care workers with facilities in need. Weaver said the state had received 11 requests for help from the program from long-term care facilities just this week.

Additional workers will work with the Indiana State Department of Health to visit each long-term care facility at least three times a week, possibly more, to provide additional infection control training, Weaver said.

In addition to staffing help, the state will send 2 million N95 masks to long-term care facilities, the largest distribution of personal protective equipment in Indiana to date.

The efforts come as ISDH closes in on its goal to perform infection control surveys at every facility in the month of October, which Weaver expects to wrap up

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