January 12, 2021 UPDATE: PA Vaccination Progress/Plans

PA-ACP has been urging the Department of Health for more than a month to provide information and access for small and independent health care practitioners to the vaccine, and the Department finally provided information on this in recent days.  We encourage you to get more information on the Department’s website on its new vaccine page.

“We are working to ensure that everyone who wants access to a COVID-19 vaccine will be able to get it,” Levine said during a Monday January 11 press conference. “I know it is really challenging to have patience, but we must show patience as the amount of vaccine available to Pennsylvania is still extremely limited and it will take several months before there is enough vaccine available for everyone.”

The state has been concentrating on the first phase of the rollout plan — Phase 1A — when health-care personnel, employees and residents of long-term care facilities, emergency services personnel and other first contact workers are scheduled to be vaccinated.  There are more than 1 million people in the first phase alone.

Levine reiterated Monday that the speed of the state’s rollout is dependent on vaccine allocations from the federal government. Pennsylvania has been allocated an additional 138,000 doses this week.

On Monday, January 11, the PA DOH launched the PA Vaccine Provider Map which provides location, if the location has received vaccine, and the contact information for those currently eligible to be vaccinated in group 1a. Click here to view the map.

As of Friday 235,000 people had received shots or just 28% of the 827,000 doses that had been received in Pennsylvania, excluding reporting delays. Levine urged people to take time now to contact their medical providers and find out if they are candidates for the vaccine before it becomes available to the general public.

Meanwhile, pharmacies are getting ready as well.  “At least 100 pharmacies have signed up” to give the shots, said Victoria Elliott, CEO of the Pennsylvania Pharmacists Association, a Harrisburg advocacy and education group. The state plan says it already has agreements with 210 pharmacies, covering nearly 1,100 locations statewide.

Turning pharmacies into vaccination centers could happen within two weeks, Dr. Levine said, following the federal government’s launch of a partnership with 19 pharmacy chains, including Walmart, CVS, Walgreens and Costco.

With the time delay between exposure and symptoms being as much as two weeks for COVID-19, it’s still a little too early to tell if there will be another rise in cases from the Christmas and New Year’s holidays, but that should begin to become clearer this week and next week.

As of Tuesday, the state reported an additional daily 7,275 additional positive cases of COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to 733,429. There are 3,403,160 individuals who have tested negative to date.  Approximately 20,860 of our total cases are among health care workers.

There were 5,232 individuals hospitalized with COVID-19, near double the peak in the spring. Of that number, 1,070 patients are in the intensive care unit with COVID-19. More data is available here.  The most accurate daily data is available on the website, with archived data also available.

As of 11:59 p.m. Monday, January 11, there were a total of 18,080 deaths attributed to COVID-19 in Pennsylvania. County-specific information and a statewide map are available on the COVID-19 Data Dashboard.

With all that as a backdrop, Gov. Tom Wolf continued to suggest the delays in delivering vaccine to patients was a problem caused by the federal government.  But according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Commonwealth ranked 32 out of 50 states.

But the state released a revised vaccine rollout plan on Friday to align with the latest federal recommendation, Phase 1A has been further defined to identify specific health care providers. Phase 1B is now a significantly larger group of people that includes people age 75 and older, those with significant health issues and essential workers. This update also creates a Phase 1C, which is those people age 65-74 and people with high-risk conditions such as cancer, COPD, hearth conditions and pregnant women, and those essential workers not included in Phase 1A or B.”

Also this week on Tuesday, the CDC expended its recommendations to include all adults 65 years of age and older be considered in Phase 1B.  Phase 2 is everyone else age 16 and older that wants a vaccine, once more vaccine become available, which remains unclear and dependent on the makers of the vaccine.