Pennsylvania, Philly expand vaccine eligibility to seniors, high-risk people

The commonwealth is expanding Phase 1A of vaccination to include those 65 or older and those 16 or older with underlying conditions.

Above, vials of the COVID-19 vaccine sit on a table at a vaccination clinic at Temple University Hospital on Dec. 16, 2020. | DANIEL BURKE AND TEMPLE HEALTH / COURTESY

Pennsylvania residents 65 and older and those 16 and older with high-risk conditions are now eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, the Pennsylvania Department of Health announced today. 

The commonwealth’s expansion of Phase 1A of its vaccine rollout plan will include seniors and those with high-risk conditions like cancer, chronic kidney disease and heart conditions, according to the Department of Health’s website.

The announcement comes as COVID-19 cases continue to surge in Pennsylvania, with the commonwealth averaging more than 6,000 COVID-19 cases per day during the last week, Spotlight PA reported.

Pennsylvania’s announcement follows a similar decision in New Jersey as Gov. Phil Murphy expanded eligibility to those 65 and older who live and work in the state and those 16 and older with serious underlying conditions, NBC10 Philadelphia reported.

Separately, the City of Philadelphia announced plans to move into Phase 1B of its vaccine rollout plan, Health Commissioner Thomas Farley announced today. Similar to the state’s Phase 1B, the transition will allow high-risk essential workers, including those involved in manufacturing and food preparation, to be vaccinated, according to the Philadelphia Department of Public Health. But unlike the state’s plan, Philadelphia residents must be at least 75 and older to be vaccinated if they aren’t an essential worker.

Pennsylvania only distributed 285,000 of the 828,000 vaccine doses it received from the federal government through Dec. 10, 2020, said Health Secretary Rachel Levine in a press conference on Monday. She believes the vaccine rollout has been slow so far and could be better with more help from the federal government.

“There are reporting delays of up to 24 hours for hospitals, and Walgreens and CVS has up to 72 hours,”  said Levine, who was recently appointed by President-elect Joe Biden to serve as assistant secretary for the Department of Health and Human Services. “And I think we need to do better to get vaccines in arms.”

There are more than 3.5 million Pennsylvanians eligible for Phase 1A of the vaccination rollout,  according to Deputy Health Secretary Cindy Findley. Phase 1B will include more essential personnel like transit workers, teachers and grocery store workers.

1 Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.