Celebrating and solidifying vaccine partnership

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WILKES-BARRE, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — The state Department of Health announced Thursday more than 9.9 million Pennsylvanians have received at least one dose of the COVID vaccine.

The Health Department credits a partnership with several retail pharmacies in achieving that number and that partnership is being celebrated and solidified.

Pennsylvania’s Acting Secretary of the Department of Health praised the state’s partners in the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program for their work to vaccinate eligible residents.

“This strong foundation for collaboration is one of the key drivers of Pennsylvania’s success in this vaccine rollout,” PA Department of Health Acting Secretary Alison Beam said.

Beam credits the partnership with administering approximately a quarter of Pennsylvania’s nearly 10 million vaccinations against COVID-19, a partnership that will continue for the foreseeable future.

“We are thrilled to be here today to highlight a number of our retail pharmacy partners who have signed a letter of intent representing our joint commitment to closely collaborate on the vaccine effort in the months to come,” Beam said.

Partners like Rite Aid which jumped at the opportunity in January when the program took effect in the Keystone State.

“We recognized early on that there were still equity problems with getting vaccination appointments and quickly partnered with the Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of Disabilities and the Offices of Long Term Living to set up community clinics,” Rite Aid Field Clinical Services Manager Chris Altman said.

Walmart has also set up mobile clinics like one this spring at Hanover Area High School in addition to providing shots to shoppers.

“We are working diligently to protect patients and are proud of our pharmacy teams for the moments of care they create,” Walmart Market Health & Wellness Director Erin Lori said.

Nine retail pharmacy partners signed the letter of intent with the Department of Health to continue vaccination efforts.

“Our work is not finished. We are here to celebrate and acknowledge progress but we need to keep pushing to vaccinate all Pennsylvanians in the weeks to come,” Beam said.

Beam says the purpose of Thursday’s letter of intent signing is to strengthen that partnership with federal pharmacy partners. Beam also says more focus needs to be placed on getting eligible children vaccinated against COVID.

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