PA receives first Covid-19 vaccine for hospitals, health care workers

Harrisburg, PA - Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine today announced that Pennsylvania is slated to receive 97,500 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for 66 counties, with Philadelphia County receiving its own allotment of 13,650 doses, for a total of 111,150 doses for health care workers identified in the state’s vaccine distribution plan.

Monongahela Valley Hospital and UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh received vaccine Monday Dec. 14. Eighty-five additional hospitals will receive shipments by Monday. Dec. 21.

“This is a pivotal development in the fight against COVID-19, in Pennsylvania and the nation,” Dr. Levine said. “This limited supply of vaccine signals the start of the process to end COVID-19’s devastating impacts on every community in the commonwealth. However, it is important to remember that we are still months away from being able to vaccinate all Pennsylvanians, making mitigation efforts more important than ever to save lives.”

This week, the initial 97,500 doses have been slated for 87 hospitals across the state to receive vaccine directly from Pfizer. As additional allocations become available, more hospital sites will receive the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine over the next several weeks. Hospital sites are selected by their ability to manage the cold chain requirement with the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, completion of the COVID-19 provider agreement, and successful onboarding with the Department of Health for necessary documentation for vaccination. The number of doses, recipient hospitals, and arrival dates are subject to change based on updated information from the federal government and Pfizer.

“These first doses of vaccine are being given specifically to health care workers through hospitals,” Dr. Levine said. “Hospitals are making arrangements to implement these vaccinations, not only to their own frontline staff but to other high-priority recipients. The number of people we can immunize truly depends on how quickly the manufacturers can make the vaccine.”

Secretary Levine also issued an order today that requires vaccine providers to report information to the department on individuals who are vaccinated. COVID-19 immunization providers are required to report patient information, including gender, race and ethnicity to the department within 24 hours of administering the vaccine.

Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine received Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) from the Food and Drug Administration on Friday, December 11, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention approved its use on December 13.

The vaccine will be available in phases beginning with critical populations due to the limited supply. The first phase is divided into two parts, with the first doses of vaccine administered to health care workers, EMS first responders and residents and staff in congregate care settings.

In the second phase, the department anticipates more vaccine doses will be available. This will allow us to vaccinate those in the first phase who were not yet able. The third phase begins once the department has a sufficient supply of vaccine. In this phase, the entire population will have access to a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has a nationwide playbook that the department used to develop and still uses to update the Pennsylvania COVID-19 Interim Vaccination Plan.

More information about the COVID-19 vaccine can be found here.