Hoosiers at higher risk of serious illness or death because of COVID-19 now can get a second booster dose of either the Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine.

The Indiana Department of Health recommended Wednesday that individuals age 12 and older with weakened immune systems, and all adults age 50 and older who received their first Pfizer or Moderna booster dose at least four months ago, get a second booster shot to increase their protection against COVID-19.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention authorized the second booster doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines Tuesday.

Adults who received a primary vaccine and booster dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine at least four months ago also may receive a second booster dose of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, according to the CDC. A third J&J shot is not recommended.

The state health agency said booster doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been shown to increase protection from hospitalization and death due to COVID-19 and the omicron variant of the virus.

The free COVID-19 vaccine is available at more than 1,400 retail pharmacies, health clinics and hospitals across the state — often without an appointment. A full list of vaccine sites is online at ourshot.in.gov.

State data show 3.7 million Hoosiers age 5 and older, or 56.8% of Indiana's vaccine-eligible population, are considered fully vaccinated against COVID-19 after receiving the two required doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, or a single dose of the J&J vaccine.

More than 1.7 million booster doses of the COVID-19 vaccines also have been administered in the Hoosier State, records show.

The county-by-county vaccination rate in Northwest Indiana, through Monday, is 56.1% in Lake County, 61.7% in Porter County, 56.4% in LaPorte County, 41.3% in Newton County and 46.4% in Jasper County.

The tiny LaPorte County town of Hanna in the 46340 ZIP code has the highest municipal vaccination rate in Northwest Indiana at 82%, followed by Munster's 46321 ZIP code at 78.2%.

The lowest vaccination rate in the Region is 32.3% in Gary's 46402 ZIP code, records show.

According to the Indiana Department of Health, unvaccinated individuals have accounted for 90.8% of Indiana's nearly 1.7 million total COVID-19 infections, 99.89% of COVID-19 hospitalizations and 99.93% of the state's more than 23,000 COVID-19 deaths since the first coronavirus case was confirmed in the state on March 6, 2020.
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