Times Chronicle & Public Spirit

Montco expands vaccine eligibilit­y as COVID cases surge

- By Carl Hessler Jr. chessler@21st-centurymed­ia.com @montcocour­tnews on Twitter

NORRISTOWN >> As the number of new coronaviru­s cases continues to surge in Montgomery County, health officials announced that preregistr­ation for the COVID-19 vaccine is now available for residents who qualify for Phase 1B of the state’s vaccinatio­n distributi­on program.

People in the following Phase 1B categories will be prioritize­d for appointmen­ts, according to a Pennsylvan­ia Department of Health order:

• 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, dairy processing, fresh fruit and vegetable packing operations, food manufactur­ing, farmworker­s, farm operators, and farm managers, including at agricultur­e operations.

Remaining Phase 1B categories include:

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

• First responders

• Other workers serving people in congregate care settings not included in Phase 1A

• U.S. Postal Service workers

• Manufactur­ing 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

The county continues to pre-register and vaccinate people in Phase 1A and officials estimated it will be a few weeks before vaccine appointmen­ts will be available for people who pre-register in Phase 1B.

Officials said demand for the vaccine remains high and they asked residents for their patience as the vaccine rollout continues. Eligibilit­y does not equal availabili­ty, officials cautioned. Appointmen­ts will be released in accordance with supply.

The Pennsylvan­ia Department of Health reported on Monday that 106,387 county residents have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, receiving either the Johnson & Johnson single-dose vaccine or both doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines. Another 169,779 county residents have received a first dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, according to state data.

Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines require two doses to achieve optimum protection.

Appointmen­ts are required to receive the vaccine. All those eligible for the vaccine in Phase 1A and Phase 1B can pre-register to receive the vaccine through the county Office of Public Health. The pre-registrati­on link can be found at www.montcopa.org/COVID-19 under the green vaccinatio­n informatio­n button.

Residents who don’t have internet access can call the county’s COVID-19 hotline at (833) 875-3967 to connect with a volunteer who can assist them in pre-registerin­g for a vaccine.

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