By April 19, all Pennsylvanians regardless of age, occupation or health will be eligible to receive vaccinations against COVID-19.
The State Department of Health announced Wednesday that it was accelerating the vaccination timetable for those in Phases 1B, 1C and 2, but will still be targeting workers in certain industries for vaccines.
“The vaccine landscape continues to evolve as the federal government is increasing allocations to more retail pharmacy chains across the country,” Acting Health Secretary Alison Beam 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.
Beam said the state has dramatically stepped up the pace of vaccinations and providers are distributing an average of 83,000 vaccines per day.
According to a press release from the DOH, Pennsylvania will begin the following accelerated phased rollout:
- March 31 workers will be eligible for vaccines in the four targeted industries that Gov. Wolf and the Task Force announced, including Law enforcement, firefighters, including career and volunteer firefighter, grocery store workers and food and agriculture workers.
- April 5 all residents in Phase 1B will be eligible to start scheduling vaccination appointments.
- April 12 all residents in Phase 1C will be eligible to start scheduling vaccination appointments.
- April 19 all residents will be eligible to start scheduling vaccination appointments.
Gene Barr, president of the Pennsylvania Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said getting out the vaccines is vital to Pennsylvania business.
“We know if we move more and more into that world were going to bring our economy back, we’re going to bring our social activities back. So, we encourage all our members to encourage their employees and employees and friends to vaccinate,” Barr said. “We know that vaccines are in short supply, but we have every confidence that our members in the pharmaceutical industry are going to drive this vaccination effort out and bring us back to a normal life.”
Pennsylvania Sen. Art Haywood, D-Philadelphia, a member of the COVID-19 vaccine task force, said, “President Biden has asked us to make every adult eligible for vaccination with the vaccine he is providing. We can do it, we can make the change. We can get more vaccine to Southeast PA and across the commonwealth and target vaccine, so no one is left out.”
Health Care officials have expressed concern that people become too complacent as more people become vaccinated, and a fear that there may be another wave of infections if safety protocols are relaxed too soon.
Beam echoed those sentiments.
“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 while we continue to aggressively advocate for more vaccine.”