(INDIANAPOLIS) – Indianapolis might lift capacity limits on bars and restaurants despite a low vaccination rate.
Marion County is still 100,000 people short of health director Virginia Caine’s goal of having half of all residents vaccinated by the Fourth of July. Just 39% of the county has gotten the shot. The rate is even worse among ethnic minorities, with just 23% of African-Americans vaccinated so far, and Latino and Asian communities also lagging behind.
But Caine says she may not stick to the 50% figure as a hard-and-fast benchmark. She says she’ll look at declining numbers of cases, hospitalizations and deaths, and at what’s happened in other places that have lifted restrictions.
Caine says residents over 50 have reached the 50% target, but age groups who became eligible for the vaccine more recently lag behind, with just one of nine 12-to-15-year-olds vaccinated.
Caine is sticking to the Fourth of July target for reassessing.
Marion County has lifted a mask mandate for vaccinated people. But bars, restaurants, gyms and museums are still limited to three-quarters capacity, and there’s a half-capacity limit for sporting events. Indy is the only NFL city which hasn’t lifted crowd limits for the upcoming season.
Caine says it’s critically important to get your shot before the virus’s more infectious Delta variant gains momentum. Right now, just one-percent of the samples Indiana has analyzed have been the Delta variant — the most common strain in Indiana is the British Alpha variant. But health experts have predicted Delta will be the prevalent strain nationally by August.
Caine says Delta has hit 12-to-20-year-olds particularly hard in the UK. She says while she understands some people are still hesitant about the vaccine, “I can tell you with certainty it is far more of a risk to leave your child unprotected than to give them a vaccine that has been rigorously tested, and has now been safely administered to millions of people.”