PITTSBURGH — The Pennsylvania Department of Health has updated its plan to distribute the coronavirus vaccine in phases. Right now, Pennsylvania is in Phase 1A, but added four new groups to that on March 31.
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Phase 1A is the first vaccine distribution step. The vaccine is currently being distributed to:
- Long-term care facility residents
- Health care personnel including, but not limited to: Emergency medical service personnel, nurses, nursing assistants, physicians, dentists, dental hygienists, chiropractors, therapists, phlebotomists, pharmacists, technicians, pharmacy technicians, health professions students and trainees, direct support professionals, clinical personnel in school settings or correctional facilities and contractual HCP not directly employed by the health care facility
- Persons not directly involved in patient care but potentially exposed to infectious material that can transmit disease among or from health care personnel and patients
- Persons ages 65 and older
- Persons ages 16-64 with high-risk conditions: Cancer, chronic kidney disease, COPD, Down Syndrome, Heart conditions, such as heart failure, coronary artery disease, or cardiomyopathies, Immunocompromised state (weakened immune system) from solid organ transplant or from blood or bone marrow transplant, immune deficiencies, HIV, use of corticosteroids, or use of other immune weakening medicines, Obesity (body mass index [BMI] of 30 kg/m2 or higher but < 40 kg/m2), Severe Obesity (BMI ≥ 40 kg/m2), Pregnancy, Sickle cell disease, Smoking and Type 2 diabetes mellitus
- Law enforcement, which includes police, sheriffs and deputies, constables, corrections officers and staff, as well as probation and parole staff.
- Firefighters, including career and volunteer firefighters.
- Grocery Store workers, including all workers in supermarkets and grocery stores.
- Food and Agriculture workers, including all food processing company employees, including meat, poultry, and dairy processing, fresh fruit and vegetable packing operations, food manufacturing, all farmworkers, farm operators, and farm managers, including at urban agriculture operations.
Phase 1B [Began April 5]
- People in congregate settings not otherwise specified as long-term care facilities, and persons receiving home and community-based services
- First responders
- Correctional officers and other workers serving people in congregate care settings not included in Phase 1A
- Food and agricultural workers
- U.S. Postal Service workers
- Manufacturing workers
- Grocery store workers
- Education workers
- Clergy and other essential support for houses of worship
- Public transit workers
- Individuals caring for children or adults in early childhood and adult day programs
Phase 1C [Begins April 12]
Essential workers in these sectors:
- Transportation and logistics
- Water and wastewater
- Food service
- Housing construction
- Finance, including bank tellers
- Information technology
- Energy, including nuclear reactors
- Legal services
- Federal, state, county and local government workers, including county election workers, elected officials and members of the judiciary and their staff
- Public safety
- Public health workers
Phase 2 [Begins April 19]
All individuals not previously covered who are 16 and older and do not have a contraindication to the vaccine (note that at this time, only the Pfizer-BioNTech product is approved for those age 16 and 17)
Teachers and education workers
Pennsylvania PreK-12 teachers and staff, as well as child care workers, str able to get Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose COVID-19 vaccine.
Teachers and staff who work in Pre-K and elementary instruction, as well as special education, were prioritized in the first round. This is because “younger children are more susceptible to learning loss and their families are more likely to have childcare challenges,” a news release said.
The vaccine is voluntary.
The vaccination of teachers is separate from Phase 1A, the current phase of Pennsylvania’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout. Everyone who was previously eligible for Phase 1A will continue to be.