PA to open vaccine access to all adults on April 19

A volunteer administers a Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine to a patient at a clinic ran by Skippack Pharmacy in Collegeville.
REUTERS/Hannah Beier

All adults in Pennsylvania — except for those who live in Philadelphia — will be eligible to receive a coronavirus vaccine beginning April 19.

State officials on Wednesday announced the updated timeline, which is in line with a request from President Joe Biden earlier this week.

In Philadelphia, where local officials have control over vaccine distribution, the city is “still on track” to open up vaccine access to all adults on May 1, said Jim Garrow, a spokesman for the city’s Department of Public Health.

There’s also no firm date for when Philadelphia will move to Phase 1C of the vaccine roll-out, when certain categories of essential workers will be able to get inoculated, though officials have said it will happen sometime in April.

Law enforcement personnel, firefighters, grocery store employees, and food and farm workers became eligible for the shot Wednesday in Pennsylvania, Gov. Tom Wolf’s administration said.

Those groups have already been getting vaccinated in Philadelphia, as the state and city’s priority lists differ.

Pennsylvania has been in Phase 1A, which, under the state plan, includes healthcare workers, nursing home residents, people 65 and older and those with chronic conditions, since the start of the vaccination campaign.

People in Phase 1B — a group that includes manufacturing workers and public transit employees — can begin scheduling vaccine appointments April 5, and those in 1C, incorporating those in technology, construction and other sectors, will be eligible April 12, state officials said.

Phase 2, when all adults can sign up for inoculations, will follow on April 19.

“The vaccine landscape continues to evolve as the federal government is increasing allocations to more retail pharmacy chains across the country,” ​Acting Pennsylvania Health Secretary Alison Beam said in a statement.

“It is important to remember that eligibility does not guarantee an immediate vaccination appointment,” she added.

Biden on Monday said that his administration plans to double the number of pharmacies offering vaccines through a federal partnership, open a dozen more mass vaccination sites and dedicate nearly $100 million to help reach vulnerable seniors and people with disabilities.

The goal is to have 90% of the Americans living within 5 miles of a vaccination site and have 90% of the country’s adult population eligible to register for an injection, according to the White House.

“President Biden has asked us to make every adult eligible for vaccination with the vaccine he is providing,” said State Sen. Art Haywood, whose district covers parts of Philadelphia and Montgomery County, in a statement. “We can do it, we can make the change.”

Philadelphia Health Commissioner Thomas Farley, speaking at a press briefing Tuesday, expressed hesitancy about moving too quickly and leaving behind at-risk groups, particularly seniors.

He urged anyone over the age of 64 to get inoculated as soon as possible to avoid an increase in deaths during the current spike in cases.

About 367,300 city residents, or nearly 30% of the population age 16 and older, are at least partially vaccinated, according to health department data.

Authorities at the state level have vaccinated 3.4 million people, equal to about 31% of eligible residents. Pennsylvania is administering an average of 83,000 doses a day, officials said.

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