EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WEHT)– The state’s COVID-19 vaccination plan opened up to 65-year-olds and older. Some people say they hope this means the virus dissipates soon.

“He wasn’t even sick or nothing and the next thing I know my grandson called me and told me he passed away,” said Doris Opperman wonders if the virus claimed her brother’s life so suddenly last March. “I’ll never forget that because that’s really the first time we learned about the virus.” She hasn’t left her apartment since.

“I don’t want to get out. I haven’t ate out since March. We used to go out and eat out every Friday, but I don’t go out anymore because you don’t ever know,” explained Opperman. When Independence Square had a vaccination clinic for their residents, Opperman knew she wanted to jump on that opportunity for her protection.

“My son has been wanting me to get it so bad and he said, ‘Mom you’ve got to get that shot.’ And I said, ‘Yes I do,'” said Opperman. “My son he wants to get it too, but he still can’t get it because he’s 65.”

Opperman was thrilled to find out her son and other people his age can now be vaccinated since many of them have not retired yet. She is also hoping this is a sign life goes back to normal soon. “I’d like to get started again, go out and play cards because we like to do that.”

Brian Spencer, Pharmacy Service Line Manager for Deaconess Health System said it’s crucial to protect the most vulnerable population during the pandemic.

“65 and older are really the highest risk population,” said Spencer. “92% of all the deaths in Indiana have been in that 65 and older age group.”

As some people prepare to receive their second shot, Spencer said experiencing side effects after the booster is normal.

“It’s to be expected that you might feel bad, you might be fatigued, you might have a small fever, and that’s what your body is doing what your body is supposed to do to build that immune response,” Spencer explained.

As of 5 p.m. Monday, nearly 96,000 Hoosiers ages 65 to 69 had scheduled appointments to receive their first dose of COVID-19 vaccine. The next group in Indiana to be vaccinated are residents 60-years-old and older. When we move to that next phase is up to the Indiana State Department of Health.

(This story was originally published on February 1, 2021)