PA expanding vaccine distribution

General public will be eligible April 19

By OWEN WALSH
Posted 4/7/21

PENNSYLVANIA — The PA Department of Health has laid out a path toward making the COVID-19 vaccine available to everyone in the commonwealth who wants it. In keeping with the Biden …

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PA expanding vaccine distribution

General public will be eligible April 19

Posted

PENNSYLVANIA — The PA Department of Health has laid out a path toward making the COVID-19 vaccine available to everyone in the commonwealth who wants it. In keeping with the Biden Administration’s promise that all adults in the country will be vaccinated by May 1, all Pennsylvanians over 16 and without a “contraindication to the vaccine” can register to be inoculated starting Monday, April 19.

The broadened rollout plan began last week when PA opened up vaccine eligibility to specific frontline occupations in the 1b category, after being restricted to serving 1a residents for months. Firefighters, law enforcement, grocery store workers and food or agricultural workers were placed at the front of the line starting March 31. The rest of 1b became eligible on April 5 and 1c will be eligible beginning Monday, April 12.

Gov. Tom Wolf’s administration and the state Department of Health caught some flack in the early days of vaccine distribution, with many communities complaining about the lack of a central registry for booking vaccine appointments and national lists that ranked the commonwealth near last place for rollout efficiency. With the American Rescue Plan passed and ramped up efforts underway, Pennsylvania has been touting its successes in an effort to rebrand itself as a vaccine leader, rather than a straggler. According to Becker’s Hospital Review, at press time, Pennsylvania was ranked 18 for vaccine distribution.

Out of the 5.5 million Pennsylvanians that have received doses, more than 100,000 are teachers and school staffers, thus completing the state’s “special initiative” to focus the Johnson & Johnson single-dose vaccine on the education sector. In just three weeks, the state had vaccinated 112,500 school employees.

As eligibility expands, Wayne Memorial Health System announced that it’s prepared to distribute 10,000 vaccine doses over the next month throughout the region. Based in Honesdale, PA, the health system’s coverage area encompasses Wayne and Pike counties, Carbondale in Lackawanna County and Forest City in Susquehanna County.

“This is terrific,” Wayne Memorial Community Health Center Executive Director Frederick Jackson said about the health department’s new timeline. “And we will do all that we can to assure that we can meet these dates as our vaccine supplies are increased.”

Residents can look for open vaccine appointments on the hospital’s website, www.wmh.org. The hospital is asking people to register online to avoid overwhelming its phone lines. But if registering online is impossible, the phone number to call is 570/253-8197. The region’s elderly population can also find help booking a vaccine appointment through its county’s area agency on aging.

Who is eligible?

1b category, eligible April 5

  • People in congregate settings not otherwise specified as long-term care facilities, and persons receiving home and community-based services
  • First responders
  • Correctional officers and other workers serving people in congregate care settings not included in Phase 1A
  • Food and agricultural workers
  • U.S. Postal Service workers
  • Manufacturing workers
  • Grocery store workers
  • Education workers
  • Clergy and other essential support for houses of worship
  • Public transit workers
  • Individuals caring for children or adults in early childhood and adult day programs

1c category, eligible April 12

  • Transportation and logistics
  • Water and wastewater
  • Food service
  • Housing construction
  • Finance, including bank tellers
  • Information technology
  • Communications
  • Energy, including nuclear reactors
  • Legal services
  • Federal, state, county and local government workers, including county election workers, elected officials and members of the judiciary and their staff
  • Media
  • Public safety
  • Public health workers

Phase 2, eligible April 19

  • ​All individuals not previously covered who are 16 and older and do not have a contraindication to the vaccine (note that at this time, only the Pfizer-BioNTech product is approved for those age 16 and 17).

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