As Pennsylvania faces its most dangerous coronavirus surge, Health Secretary Rachel Levine said the commonwealth could have the vaccine “within the next month” if federal approval remains on track.
However, Levine has sounded a note of caution over the prospect of a Covid-19 vaccine, stressing that “we do not know how quickly the vaccine supply will meet the demand.”
“It is important to remember again that when the vaccine becomes available, it will not be a cure — certainly not an immediate cure or end — to the coronavirus pandemic,” Levine said.
The Department of Health on Thursday released their interim vaccination plan, which outlines for the first time who will have first access to vaccines, how they will be administered and how the state plans to promote vaccines to its population, including to some people who might be wary.
In the first phase, when vaccine doses are likely to be limited, high-risk workers in health care settings, first responders, other essential workers, people with pre-existing health conditions and adults in long-term care are likely to be prioritized.
As more doses become available, those highly vulnerable to COVID-19 will be vaccinated, and then eventually the general public.
Right now, Levine said, the focus is on the two vaccines — Moderna and Pfizer — though there are others in the pipeline.
Pfizer released interim results that showed its candidate vaccine was more than 90% effective, and Moderna’s vaccine appears to be 94.5% effective against the disease.
The announcement regarding the vaccine’s arrival came the same day the commonwealth reported 7,126 new coronavirus cases, the highest single-day increase since the pandemic began in March.
“We anticipate, again, that we’re going to be rolling this out through the winter and then the spring and into the summer,” Levine said. “It could take a significant amount of time to immunize everyone in Pennsylvania. I anticipate that we’re going to be wearing masks in 2021, well into — maybe until the end of — 2021,” she said.