Residents move to Phase 1A for vaccine
HARRISBURG — Residents ages 65 and older and ages 16 to 64 with serious health conditions will now be able to receive their vaccinations under the updated phase 1A vaccine distribution guidelines created by the federal government.
This adds 3.5 million Pennsylvanians into phase 1A for vaccination eligibility, the state Department of Health announced Tuesday.
Conditions like cancer, chronic kidney disease, smoking, type 2 diabetes, heart conditions, obesity, sickle cell and pregnancy are considered to be high-risk conditions and now fall under the eligibility guidelines for the vaccine, according to deputy secretary for Health Promotion and Disease prevention and head of the COVID-19 Task Force Cindy Findley.
A full list of conditions and persons who are eligible are on the DOH website. In addition, there is an interactive map on the website that provides locations and contact information for clinics and hospitals that are distributing the vaccine.
The guidelines have been adapted, and will continue to be adapted by the government to help the more vulnerable populations because they have a higher risk of being hospitalized and dying from the virus.
Findley also stated in a press briefing Tuesday afternoon that the state not only approved a retail partnership with Rite-Aid pharmacies to be able to expand the distribution of vaccines, but that the state is also looking into “mass vaccine clinics” if more vaccine allocations become available.
She added that the allocations coming from the federal government have remained the same with no increases.
The retail partnership with Rite-Aid is different than the federal partnership with CVS Pharmacies and Walgreens.
The federal partnership is helping out with vaccinating the long-term care and nursing facilities and the retail partnership will be able to help distribution to those not affiliated with healthcare, healthcare systems or facilities — especially those who are in the newly adapted phase 1A.
“We want you to get vaccinated as quickly as possible,” Findley said. “We are well aware we don’t have enough vaccines to meet the demand (at this time).”
She added that there is no timeline as to when the state will move from phase 1A to phase 1B as there are “still a number of people to vaccinate” in phase 1A, including a number of community health care workers.
“We are looking at those who have received allocations and we are looking at those who haven’t received allocations and are trying our best to get vaccines out to those places,” she said. “We must have patience. It is challenging.”
Those who are curious about whether or not they will be eligible for the vaccine with the updated guidelines can visit the DOH website to take an eligibility quiz and also schedule via the state’s vaccination availability map that locates clinics and hospitals distributing the vaccines and their contact information at www.health.pa.gov.