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PA Vaccine Updates: At Current Rate, Next Phase ‘A Year Away’

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PENNSYLVANIA — As the state continues its vaccine rollout plan, officials in counties around Pennsylvania are warning that they do not have nearly enough doses to continue to move on to the next phases of the plan. It’s added confusion to an already complex situation leaving many residents impatient and anxious while in COVID limbo.

The state announced Tuesday that the 1A priority category, which had previously only included healthcare workers, had now expanded to include anyone over the age of 65, as well as those from 16 to 64 with serious underlying conditions.

This vastly expanded the size of 1A, by hundreds of thousands in some counties. With doses scarce, it means that the 1B phase, which includes teachers and police officers, might not be reached for a very long time.

“At the current rate we are receiving vaccine, it could take us a year to vaccinate all of the individuals currently in the 1A category,” Montgomery County Commissioner Val Arkoosh said Wednesday.

Montgomery County is presently receiving 5,000 doses a day. Tuesday’s announcement from the state brought 250,000 more people into that 1A group. Similarly, Chester County is receiving 2,500 a day, and the announcement added 90,000 more people there to 1A.

With the situation changing on a daily basis, one thing has remained common: there is no corresponding increase in vaccine shipments, nor is there clarity on a timeline.

“There are clearly supply chain issues that are beyond the control of county governments, but we are being left to explain this to a public that is growing increasingly frustrated,” Bucks County Commissioner Diane Ellis-Marseglia said. “The federal and state governments need to tell the truth to citizens: they do not have anywhere near an adequate supply of vaccines.”

Officials around the region had, up until days ago, expressed hopes that some of the frontline workers in 1B could be vaccinated by the end of January. Montgomery and Bucks counties were among those that offered pre-registration for vaccinations for individuals in those groups, anticipating that they would make the shift to the next priority group any day.
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“It is very frustrating that the federal and state governments keep identifying more and more citizens who are priorities for the vaccine without providing the vaccine or even any dates for possible deliveries,” said Ellis-Marseglia added.

One exception is Philadelphia, which operates independently of the state and the rest of the counties. 1B will begin there this week.

Statewide, the expansion of 1A adds makes approximately 3.5 million Pennsylvanians eligible for the vaccine.

The state had administered 454,879 partial vaccinations, and 88,450 full vaccinations, as of Thursday.

If you are eligible to receive the vaccine, the state has an interactive map to assist you with finding a vaccine provider near you. You will then schedule an appointment with the provider.

 

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