COVID-19 vaccinations: All adults eligible by April 19

All adults in Pennsylvania will become eligible for a COVID-19 vaccination by April 19, the Department of Health said Wednesday.

The news comes nearly four months after the state rolled out its immunization effort for 4 million residents under Phase 1A. There was early criticism over the pace and logistics of the state’s plan. Vaccine providers now administer up to 83,000 shots per day, however, acting Secretary of Health Alison Beam said.

“The vaccine landscape continues to evolve as the federal government is increasing allocations to more retail pharmacy chains across the country,” she said. “To ensure that vaccine continues to get to people efficiently and equitably, Pennsylvania is adapting its plan to allow workers in targeted industries to access any of the three vaccines available at providers throughout the state, and to accelerate our eligibility for remaining phases of the state’s vaccination plan.”

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An additional 250,000 firefighters, police officers, grocery store employees and food and agriculture workers became eligible Wednesday. The remaining 1 million residents left in Phase 1B, which covers a range of essential worker categories, can sign up starting April 5.

Another 1.7 million residents in Phase 1C will see eligibility beginning April 12. Adults will become eligible the following week, April 19.

READ: COVID-19 vaccine: WellSpan has vaccinated thousands

All adults eligible
Surgical ICU Nurse Madison Myers receives the COVID-19 vaccine at WellSpan Surgery & Rehabilitation Hospital in York.

Eligibility won’t guarantee immediate appointment

“It is important to remember that eligibility does not guarantee an immediate vaccination appointment,” Beam said. “Vaccine providers are ready and eager to get a shot in the arm of every person who wants one.”

Meanwhile, the state will continue to aggressively advocate for more vaccine, she said.

She told reporters residents won’t face the same scheduling challenges they experienced with expansion of Phase 1 in January. Vaccine providers now know exactly how many doses will be received each week. That will make it possible for residents to schedule vaccinations weeks and months in advance.

Lawmakers on the state’s COVID-19 Vaccination Task Force said the plan will ensure the state exceeds President Joe Biden’s demand of opening immunization appointments to all adults by May 1.

“Pennsylvania has done the work to make this a reality,” said Rep. Bridget Malloy Kosierowski, D-Taylor. “I have said time and time again that this will get better, and it is.” 

Rep. Tim O’Neal, R-Washington, called Wednesday “a day of hope and optimism.”

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Christen Smith

Christen Smith follows Pennsylvania’s General Assembly for The Center Square. She is an award-winning reporter with more than a decade of experience covering state and national policy issues for niche publications and local newsrooms alike.