coronavirus

Slow, Steady Progress in Pa. as 77,000 of 1 Million in Phase 1A Have Received Vaccine

Hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvania healthcare workers and older residents living in longterm care facilities remain in line for first doses of coronavirus vaccine, state Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine said Monday

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Less than 10% of the healthcare workers and older Pennsylvanians who make up Phase 1A of the state's vaccination rollout plan have received their first doses, but the top health official said she expects a "consistent, weekly distribution" of the coronavirus vaccine in the weeks ahead.

It will like take several weeks before all of the estimated 1 million Pennsylvanians who make up Phase 1A receive their first dose, Health Secretary Rachel Levine said Monday.

This week -- the third since vaccinations started earlier this month -- Levine said 58 hospitals and longterm care facilities will receive 73,000 doses of vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna.

Once all healthcare workers and older citizens living in longterm care facilities throughout the state receive those doses, next up will be first responders and a vast number of Pennsylvanians who either work in jobs "critical" to the functioning of society. Younger Pennsylvanians who are considered "high risk" to COVID-19 infections may also be in Phase 1B. It remains unclear exactly what order workers in Phase 1B will be given doses.

That decision is still likely months, not weeks, away. The state is using distribution guidelines issued by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and National Institute of Health.

This graphic is provided in a report by the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine that was commissioned by the CDC and NIH.

The general public in Pennsylvania is not expected to be eligible for the vaccine until late spring or early summer at the earliest, Levine said.

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She added that the vaccine rollout is being conducted so that those who receive their first dose will then receive their second dose three to four weeks later. Those who receive the Pfizer vaccine will receive their second dose three weeks later while those who receive the Moderna vaccine will receive it four weeks later.

"We anticipate there will be consistent weekly distribution in Pase 1A," Levine said at a press conference Monday. But she noted that Pennsylvania's Department of Health, as well as Philadelphia's Department of Health, which is receiving doses separately from the state, do not know week-to-week how many doses they will receive for distribution.

The state and city are given doses weekly from the federal government.

The pandemic has increased in the number of cases for three straight months, with each setting monthly records for cases. In December alone, 1 in 59 Americans became infected with the coronavirus.

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