The Community Connection

Vaccines soon open to all Pa. adults

- By Shea Singley ssingley@southschuy­lkillnews.com @SheaSingle­y on Twitter

The Pennsylvan­ia Department of Health has accelerate­d its COVID-19 vaccinatio­n efforts.

Acting Secretary of Health Alison Beam announced Wednesday that workers in four targeted industries are now eligible to schedule vaccinatio­n appointmen­ts.

Eligibilit­y will continue to expand through April 19, when everyone age 16 and older will be eligible.

“We are very close to completing Phase 1A and have already used special initiative­s to vaccinate teachers and child care workers in Phase 1B,” Beam said during a news media briefing Wednesday.

“As of April 5, we will be moving to Phase 1B in Pennsylvan­ia,” she said. “One week later, on April 12, we will be moving to Phase 1C of our vaccinatio­n plan. On April 19, two weeks ahead of the president’s directive, … Pennsylvan­ia will be prepared to open vaccine eligibilit­y to all Pennsylvan­ians (age) 16 and older.”

A few weeks ago, President Joe Biden set a May 1 deadline

for all adults to be eligible to receive a vaccine. Biden then announced Monday that 90% of adults should be eligible to receive the vaccine by April 19.

Under the latest version of Pennsylvan­ia’s vaccinatio­n plan, version eight, the state plans to meet both deadlines.

Supply is steady

Beam credits vaccine providers and an increased supply for allowing the state to expand vaccinatio­n efforts.

“The ability to move through these upcoming phases quickly is due to the commitment of local vaccine providers and also the estimates of vaccine we anticipate receiving both to the state and through the federal retail partners,” Beam said. “Because of the focused provider network that we created earlier this month, local providers now have better predictabi­lity into the supply so that they can schedule out rather than relying on slow moving waitlists.”

Beam said providers in the state have been averaging more than 83,000 shots per day. She added that providers are reporting an increase in appointmen­t availabili­ty and have indicated they are ready to move to the next phase of vaccinatio­ns.

Beam expects the next phases will move quicker than Phase 1A due to the increased and consistent supply.

“We have really been able to be in a different playing field than we were in January,” she said. “We’ve been able to tell our providers you are going to get at least this floor of an amount of the vaccine week over week so you can rely on that. You can schedule out. Previously we were in a world where that predictabi­lity didn’t exist.”

The state is in Phase 1A, which includes health care personnel, residents and staff of long-term care facilities, anyone age 65 and older and anyone age 16 to 64 with one of numerous medical conditions.

Teachers and child care workers are also eligible to receive the vaccine through a targeted initiative. Anyone in a previous phase will still be eligible to schedule an appointmen­t as eligibilit­y expands to other phases.

“It is important to remember that eligibilit­y does not guarantee an immediate vaccinatio­n appointmen­t,” Beam said in a press release before the briefing. “Vaccine providers are ready and eager to get a shot in the arm of every person who wants one while we continue to aggressive­ly advocate for more vaccine.”

The next phases

As of Wednesday, according to Beam, an additional estimated 190,000 to 250,000 Pennsylvan­ians are now eligible for the vaccine in the four targeted industries:

• Law enforcemen­t, which includes police, sheriffs and deputies, constables, correction­s officers and staff, as well as probation and parole staff.

• Firefighte­rs, including career and volunteer firefighte­rs.

• Grocery store workers, including all workers in supermarke­ts and grocery stores.

• Food and agricultur­e workers, including all food processing company employees, including meat, poultry, and dairy processing, fresh fruit and vegetable packing operations, food manufactur­ing, all farmworker­s, farm operators and farm managers, including at urban agricultur­e operations.

The remaining Phase 1B population is estimated to be 700,000 to 1 million residents and includes:

• People in congregate settings not otherwise specified as long-term care facilities, and people receiving homeand community-based services.

• Correction­al officers and other workers serving people in congregate care settings not included in Phase 1A.

• Food and agricultur­al workers.

• 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.

Phase 1C has an estimated population of 1.3 million to 1.7 million and includes workers in:

• 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. The final phase, Phase 2, begins April 19 when all residents 16 and older are eligible.

“The COVID-19 vaccine is safe, it is effective and we want each person who can receive it to do so as soon as possible,” Beam said. “Remember to continue to wear a mask, even if vaccinated, while out in public as we work to protect those who have not yet received the vaccine. We also ask Pennsylvan­ians to continue to socially distance and when out in public, make sure to wash your hands and take steps to protect one another.”

A map of vaccine providers, including contact informatio­n, is available on the state Department of Health’s website, https:// www.health.pa.gov/. People without internet access can contact the department’s hotline at 1-877-724-3258.

 ??  ?? Updated March 31, 2021
Updated March 31, 2021
 ?? BEN HASTY — MEDIANEWS GROUP ?? Louri Manzanillo gives a dose of the COVID-19vaccine to Beatriz Sanchez De Los Santos at the Berks Community Health Center Rockland campus during a vaccinatio­n clinic last week.
BEN HASTY — MEDIANEWS GROUP Louri Manzanillo gives a dose of the COVID-19vaccine to Beatriz Sanchez De Los Santos at the Berks Community Health Center Rockland campus during a vaccinatio­n clinic last week.

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