18455 DOH Corona Update

Photo by PACast Gov. Tom Wolf, via video speaks while Department of Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine looks on from a podium during a press conference inside PEMA headquarters on Wednesday.

HARRISBURG — With the holidays behind us, efforts to administer a vaccine for COVID-19 will “gear up,” Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine said.

According to the most recent data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Pennsylvania has administered just under one-third of the COVID-19 vaccine doses provided to the state.

In Ohio, 52% of the doses provided to the state have been administered, according to the CDC. West Virginia has administered 48% of the doses provided by the federal government, according to the CDC.

On the other hand, Pennsylvania is doing slightly better than New York, where 31% of doses provided by the federal government have been administered; and Maryland, where 29% of doses have been administered, according to the CDC.

“I wouldn’t say we’re behind,” Levine said. “Now the holidays are over, things are going to be gearing up. It’s going to gear up a lot.”

There were 17,398 doses of COVID-19 vaccine administered to people in Pennsylvania last Wednesday, the largest number on a single day, according to state data. Thursday, New Year’s Eve, the state reported 7,350 vaccines were given, and on New Year’s Day, no vaccines were administered.

Levine said 135,044 COVID vaccine doses have been administered in the state. The state got its first doses of vaccine on Dec. 14.

In addition, workers from CVS and Walgreens vaccinated residents and staff at 115 nursing homes in the state last week.

Levine said the state hasn’t been notified yet how many people were vaccinated at those facilities.

The CDC’s vaccine tracking data shows 155,983 doses of vaccine have been administered in Pennsylvania.

Rachel Kostelac, a Department of Health spokeswoman, said the CDC data appeared to include vaccine doses given by federal agencies, including Veterans Health Administration and the Bureau of Prisons, which were not included in the state total.

Levine said the state expects to receive 246,725 doses of vaccine this week. That includes 97,500 doses that will be used to provide second-doses to people who’ve already been administered the COVID vaccine shot once, she said.

Levine said state officials are working to iron out their strategy for broadening the distribution of COVID vaccine when the state is ready to begin offering the vaccine to people in the groups considered part of Phase 1B, including adults over the age of 75 living outside of long-term care facilities, teachers, prisoners and prison workers, and those who work in food production and PPE manufacturing facilities.

Levine said state officials are aware of reports that some staff in hospitals and nursing homes aren’t signing up to be vaccinated.

She said it’s not clear how many health care workers who would be eligible for the vaccine have opted not to get it.

Levine said state officials are urging people who are eligible to get the vaccine to do so.

“It’s so important,” she said.

Survey data released in mid-December by the Kaiser Family Foundation, a San Francisco-based non-profit health policy analysis firm, found that 27% of people surveyed say they wouldn’t get a COVID vaccine or they were hesitant about getting the vaccine. That survey found the hesitancy was highest among Republicans, those aged 30-49 and rural residents.

The effort to vaccinate Pennsylvanians comes as three-weeks of ramped-up mitigation efforts expired Monday morning. Bars, indoor dining, gyms and other entertainment venues, had all been shut down since Dec. 12.

Today, Gov. Tom Wolf said those mitigation efforts seemed to have worked.

“The sacrifices Pennsylvanians took over the holidays to celebrate differently than usual and with people inside your household are signs of our continued resilience and drive to fight against COVID-19,” Wolf said. “We must continue these best practices to stay safe and keep our friends, family and loved ones safe while COVID-19 remains a threat in our communities,” he said.

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