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Healthbeat: Vaccine Update in Pennsylvania

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WILKES-BARRE, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — What’s considered the ultimate way to protect us from COVID-19 has led to vaccination frustration for so many in Pennsylvania.

Nearly three months after the first vaccine was approved, many Pennsylvanians eligible for the shot are still waiting.

That wait comes as we approach the one year anniversary of the first diagnosed cases of COVID-19 in the commonwealth.
With another COVID vaccine just approved, the Pennsylvania Department of Health, Tuesday, discussed the goal of getting many more people vaccinated.

“Well, this week is a very exciting and monumental week in the fight against COVID-19,” Pennsylvania Department of Health Senior Advisor for COVID-19 Response Lindsey Mauldin said.

Speaking during a virtual media briefing in Harrisburg, Mauldin discussed the latest efforts to vaccinate eligible Pennsylvanians and the role Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine will play.

“We know that right now there simply is not enough vaccine for everyone who wants it. However, the addition of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine will certainly help increase the number of vaccines allocated to Pennsylvania,” Mauldin said.

To date, Pennsylvania has been allocated nearly 3.7 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine from Pfizer and Moderna combined, including a half-million of those doses just in the last week.

Through Monday, nearly 2.5 million doses were administered. But unlike Pfizer and Moderna two-shot versions, Johnson & Johnson requires just a single dose to be fully vaccinated.

“We’re currently working with the legislative COVID task force members, PEMA and other partners to determine how best to use the first supply of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine,” Mauldin said.

With four million doses of Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine to be shipped throughout the U.S., two significant questions remain unanswered. Just how much Johnson & Johnson vaccine will Pennsylvania get and will second doses of Moderna arrive for people who need it by the end of this week?

“Ultimately that would be our hope but again that is kind of determinant on the provider and their ability to schedule appointments with those individuals. And I’ll just say we haven’t made any announcement again on the Johnson & Johnson vaccination,” Mauldin said.

Mauldin said we can expect an update on the vaccination process in Pennsylvania this week.

According to Governor Wolf, that update will include announcing teachers pre-K through 12th grade, public and private, will move into Pennsylvania’s current eligible phase 1A vaccine group.

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