FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — As children became able to receive COVID-19 vaccinations, Indiana took another step closer to a COVID-19 endemic.

“It may be endemic as early as the holidays this year, certainly by the end of this year,” said Brian Dixon, the Director of Public Health Informatics with the Regenstrief Institute in Indianapolis. “By next year, we really should begin to treat this disease as we do everything else.”

Dixon added together the number of vaccinated Hoosiers and the number who have been infected with coronavirus. Allowing for some overlap, he estimated roughly one in four residents is still vulnerable to the SARS-CoV-2, which causes COVID-19 infections. As the state approaches herd immunity, COVID-19 will become more seasonal – like the cold or flu.

“We will probably continue to have it on our list of diseases that we watch for every year,” he said. “It will probably become a virus that needs to have a vaccine booster every one to two years rather than every six months like we have now.”

Dixon thought the World Health Organization would keep the global pandemic status until 2023 or 2024, since the vaccine is not as readily available in Africa and South America.