ELKHART — The least vaccinated age groups in Indiana are seeing a larger uptick in COVID-19 infections than others, data from the Indiana State Department of Health show.
Local health officials on Friday were directing focus on information showing the effect of vaccinations and the importance of wearing masks.
Hoosiers ages 30 to 39 have seen the largest increase in infections per 100,000 residents since the current wave of infections began around July 1. From that point through Aug. 15, the group went from fewer than 50 new cases per day to more than 400.
In the first two weeks of August, Hoosiers ages 0 to 19 made the largest jump, from about 125 cases per 100,000 to about 400, meaning that children are right behind the 30-39 age group.
Behind them are people in their 20s, then people in their 40s, then 50s, and finally those who are 60 or older, who had 200 new infections per 100,000 residents on Aug. 15.
Meanwhile, Hoosiers who are older are more likely to be vaccinated. All age groups from 60 and up have at least 70 percent of residents fully vaccinated. From there, it goes down, with people in their 50s nearing 60 percent vaccine uptake, people in their 40s being at just above 50 percent, and people in their 30s being in the low 40 percent range. People in their 20s are in the high 30 percent range and teenagers are in the low 30s.
Children 11 or younger are not yet able to be vaccinated.
“This is the disease of the young at this point in time,” said Elkhart County Health Officer Dr. Bethany Wait, noting that older people who remain unvaccinated are still most at risk of hospitalization or death.
ISDH data shows that almost all Hoosiers who are hospitalized for COVID-19 are unvaccinated, and that 1,288 individuals were hospitalized for the disease between Aug. 15 and 21; seven of them were fully vaccinated.
More than 90 percent of all COVID-19 deaths in Indiana have occurred among people who were 60 or older, and deaths have become rarer since vaccines became available. However, Indiana and the U.S. have seen an increased number of deaths in recent weeks, following the surge in cases.
Wait held a press conference Friday to direct focus at the uptick in cases in the county and the state. Locally, the current wave became the second-largest of the pandemic this week. But the data show the uptick is largely preventable, and Wait encouraged residents to wear a mask in public indoor settings and to get vaccinated.
She also encouraged people to stop being violent or filming others at hospitals and clinics over disagreements about whether to wear a mask.
“We are experiencing more aggressive and violent behavior within the walls of our health care system, and that just can’t happen,” Wait said. “We have clinics in our county that are having to have security guards placed in their lobbies because of poor behaviors. Please understand, you’re in a health care setting, we have high-risk patients in those areas. You have to wear a mask.”