INDIANAPOLIS, Ind (WEHT) – Indiana has a low vaccination rate, coming in at 43rd out of all states when it comes to the vaccinated population.

The Indiana Chamber of Commerce and Indiana Hospital Association (IHA) are pleading with people to get vaccinated as to free up resources for people who need medical help, as well as to keep businesses going strong. While the Indiana Chamber does not support government mandates for COVID-19 vaccinations and believes such a move should be left up to the employer, the organization continues to encourage businesses to urge their workers to get vaccinated for their own health and that of their workplace.

“We have never had this many total patients in our hospitals and we will soon match or surpass the greatest number of patients hospitalized for COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic,” says IHA President Brian Tabor. “Serious staffing shortages persist throughout the health care system and our capacity is extremely strained. The vast majority of patients hospitalized for COVID-19 in Indiana are unvaccinated.”

“It has become increasingly clear that a vaccinated workforce is absolutely vital to Indiana’s future economic health,” asserts Indiana Chamber President Kevin Brinegar. “Many Hoosier businesses can’t afford to have another COVID outbreak or temporarily close. Everyone has been through a lot the past two years and we all want the pandemic to be behind us but that is simply not the case yet. We have to remain vigilant and work together to ensure workplaces are as safe and virus-free as possible and remain in operation.” Brinegar also notes how workforce shortages due to COVID-19 are directly impacting the supply chain, compounding those issues and contributing to inflation.

Through its Wellness Council of Indiana (WCI), the Indiana Chamber is partnering with the Franciscan Health Immunization Department to offer free Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine clinics on-site to employers in all Indiana counties. Both the initial vaccines and boosters are available. The only requirement for the complimentary service is that 15 people total be at one location – that can be employees and their dependents, or two small employers can come together. If the 15-person threshold can’t be met, there is a $50 travel fee.

For employers that find themselves with a suspected COVID-19 outbreak and testing of multiple employees is needed, the Indiana Chamber also has secured a vendor known as Patients Choice Laboratories. The company provides RT-PCR COVID testing statewide with results 24 hours after receipt. The test kits can be shipped to employers anywhere in the state with instructions for employees on how to do the collection. Patients Choice Laboratories will pick up the tests to analyze.

“With at-home rapid tests in such scarce supply, this is a viable and available alternative to help stem the spread of the virus,” Brinegar explains. “We know there is capacity at Patients Choice Laboratories. The state of Indiana also has a database of additional testing resources at that can be helpful for employers and their workers.” The website Brinegar mentioned can be found here.

Tabor urges everyone who has not been vaccinated – or who is eligible to receive a booster – to do so immediately to ensure a hospital bed is available for all in need. “Not only will it dramatically reduce your own risk of serious illness, you will be far less likely to take a hospital bed away from a family member, friend or neighbor.”