Pennsylvania is adjusting its immunization plan after the Federal Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) issued new recommendations over who should be next in line to receive the COVID-19 vaccine following frontline healthcare workers and long-term care facilities.
ACIP recommended the next in line should be persons 75-years-old and above along with certain essential frontline workers. The recommendations next list people ages 65-74, persons aged 16–64 years with high-risk medical conditions, and other essential workers.
Dr. Rachel Levine also urged hospitals Wednesday to begin to work with EMS companies to vaccinate anyone working in that capacity.
"We might have some 'mass vaccination clinics'," she said when she was asked how the state planned to vaccinate the total number of people included under the new recommendations.
Deliveries of the vaccinations to Pennsylvania hospitals are based on the federal government's rollout, known as 'operation warp speed.' On Monday in Pennsylvania, the federal government will partner with CVS and Walgreens to administer shots to people at skilled nursing facilities.
However, vaccinations are still in short supply in the state and Pennsylvania has not yet received enough vaccine to cover the nearly 12 million state population.
"Operation Warp Speed determines which hospital gets it Monday, which hospital gets it Wednesday, and which hospital gets it Friday," said Levine.
41,444 health care workers in Pennsylvania had been vaccinated as of Wednesday. The state is expecting more than 30,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine soon. It just started to receive the first doses of the Moderna shot this week.
The COVID-19 vaccine is not expected to be available to the public until spring or summer.
As for the holidays, Dr. Levine reminds everyone to practice social distancing and wear masks and to "be with our families remotely, even though I know that is a tremendous sacrifice. But, that's what we need to do to stop the spread and make sure we don't have another rebound in January."