Department of Health Revises State Vaccination Plan
On January 19, the Pennsylvania Department of Health released the latest revised COVID-19 vaccination plan. This plan includes people who are 65 and older, and those 16-64 with certain underlying medical conditions (including smoking) that make them more vulnerable to the disease. There will most certainly be delays in delivery and availability of the vaccine, and an absolute delay in moving to Phase 1B and 1C.
“Pennsylvania is expanding our vaccination efforts to start including anyone over 65 and people ages 16-64 with serious medical conditions that make them more at risk for severe illness due to COVID-19,” said Cindy Findley, Department of Health’s Deputy Secretary for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention, and leader of the state’s Vaccine Task Force.
The CDC has defined this group as people who have conditions like Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), cancer, sickle cell disease and chronic kidney disease. Pregnant women and smokers also are included in this group. A full list of these medical conditions includes:
- Chronic kidney disease
- COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)
- Down Syndrome
- Heart conditions, such as heart failure, coronary artery disease, or cardiomyopathies
- Immunocompromised state (weakened immune system) from solid organ transplant
- Obesity (body mass index [BMI] of 30 kg/m2 or higher but < 40 kg/m2)
- Severe Obesity (BMI ≥ 40 kg/m2)
- Sickle cell disease
- Type 2 diabetes mellitus
- Immunocompromised state (weakened immune system) from blood or bone marrow transplant, immune deficiencies, HIV, use of corticosteroids, or use of other immune weakening medicines.
It is important to note that while the number of people eligible to get vaccinated is expanding, the allotment of vaccine doses that Pennsylvania is receiving from the federal government is not increasing. These modifications could add as many as 2.5 million more Pennsylvanians to Phase 1A, including the 1,759,000 smokers and the 378,000 Pennsylvanians between 65-75 years of age.
“To help people determine when they are eligible for vaccination, and how to get vaccinated, we have developed a ‘vaccine eligibility quiz’ now online at pa.gov,” Findley said. Once people complete the short vaccine eligibility quiz to determine if it is currently their turn to get vaccinated, they will go to the interactive map online to find a vaccine provider near them. They will schedule an appointment directly with that provider. Efforts today here, including a delay of 20 minutes with one vaccine site just to learn there was no available product, over six calls proved fruitless.
FAQs can be found here.