COVID-19: Demand strong for vaccine

Demand for the new COVID-19 vaccine proved to be strong among the area’s senior citizens last week. Within hours of the Department of Health’s announcement that it was expanding the state’s Phase 1 vaccination plan to include senior citizens over 65, WellSpan Health opened a portal on its website to start taking appointments for the vaccine.

Area residents made more than 45,000 vaccination appointments at WellSpan’s 21 vaccination sites within two days.

The state’s Phase 1A includes:

  • Healthcare personnel, EMS first responders, critical workers maintaining core functions and long-term care facility residents.
  • People ages 65 and older
  • People ages 16-64 with certain medical conditions, as defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that increase the risk of severe illness from the virus.
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RELATED: COVID-19 vaccines: Good news for seniors, vulnerable others

Demand for COVID-19 vaccine

COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution

Pennsylvania hospitals, including WellSpan’s facilities, began receiving shipments of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine the week of Dec. 14 and Moderna COVID-19 vaccine the week of Dec. 21.

Through Jan. 22:

  • 626,532 doses of the vaccine administered across the state. Note: This includes vaccine administration through the CVS as part of the Federal Pharmacy Partnership.
  • There are 413,450 people who have received one dose (partially covered).
  • There are 106,541 people who have received two doses (fully covered).

The math results in 626,532 doses administered to 519,991 people. Find a spreadsheet of facilities that have received vaccine here.

RELATED: COVID-19: 135K Pennsylvania residents vaccinated

WellSpan online scheduling platform

“WellSpan Health is excited to have been able to open its online scheduling platform,” Ryan Coyle, WellSpan’s media relations manager said.

Both WellSpan patients and non-patients can use the platform.

“As you might expect, with supplies limited and demand high, appointments are booked out several weeks,” Coyle said. “We ask everyone for patience. Much will depend on getting an ongoing and adequate supply (of vaccine) through the Pennsylvanis Department of Health.”

WellSpan’s supply has so far been based on weekly requests. The formula takes into conssideration the number of appointments scheduled at vaccination sites, he said.

“We are distributing in alignment with Pennsylvania’s DoH,” he said. “(WellSpan) is committed to distributing vaccine as fast as we can as we receive it.”

Prior to DoH’s expansion of the Phase1A vaccination plan, WellSpan hit a milestone of 20,000 vaccinations to healthcare workers. The reasoning behind vaccinating healthcare workers first hinged on their daily exposure to the virus; and the need to keep them healthy to care for the most severe cases as the virus raced through the general population.

What’s next on the vaccine front

It is still uncertain when the vaccine will be available to the general public. Coyle said that depends on availability of additional supplies, but pointed to the fact that WellSpan had 45,000 doses to begin vaccinating the expanded Phase 1A population.

Predictions had put Phase1A well into early spring, so last week’s expansion came as a surprise to many.

Coyle encourages those who were unable to book vaccination appointments last week to go to the website and create an account. You don’t have to be a patient to do that. An existing account will save time and make it quicker to get a vaccine appointment when additional supplies of the vaccine are available.

READ: Local nursing homes get vaccine

Meanwhile, area nursing homes are looking at vaccinating their vulnerable residents with the expansion of the state’s Phase 1A. The state initially contracted with Walgreen’s to inoculate Skilled Nursing Facilities’ residents. CVS was to inoculate the Personal Care Homes’ residents and staff. DHS released a notice last week saying the department has also contracted with Rite Aid to inoculate both Skilled Nursing Facilities and Personal Care Homes.

Shook Home in Chambersburg had its first vaccination clinic for its Skilled Nursing Facility Saturday. The first vaccination clinic in Shook’s Personal Care Home is set for Jan. 28.

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