Allegheny County lowering eligibility age for Phase 1A of COVID-19 vaccine as concerns rise for ‘spring surge’

PITTSBURGH — The director of the Allegheny County Health Department said she is concerned about a “spring surge” of COVID-19 cases for several reasons.

During a news conference Wednesday, Dr. Debra Bogen said virus variants are present in our community, people who test positive are reporting attending more and more group events and there are more opportunities for the virus to spread as things open back up. She also said that while the state’s data shows cases in Allegheny County have remained stable, when you factor in confirmed and probable cases from the past week, “we’re seeing a slight increase in cases overall.”

COVID-19 Weekly Briefing Starting at 4:00 pm

Posted by Allegheny County Health Department on Wednesday, March 17, 2021

“Many people in our community remain at risk,” Bogen said.

Additionally, county officials said they are lowering the age at which county residents can get vaccinated through ACHD to 50 years old starting this Friday. Previously, the county health department was only vaccinating people aged 65 and older, as well as individuals with specific health conditions.

Bogen said the three new vaccination sites opening in the county will be in Oakland, the Hill District and Ross Township:

  • Central Baptist Church in the Hill District opens March 22
  • Peterson Events Center in Oakland is distributing limited vaccines four days next week
  • Ross Township Community Center will open March 24

Bogen also said there have been “about 17 cases” of the different coronavirus variants reported so far in the county. She believes there will be more mass vaccination events coming soon.

In relation to St. Patrick’s Day, Bogen said it usually takes about a week or two before large numbers of cases linked to a holiday or event start popping up. So far, she hasn’t heard of any major outbreaks linked to the holiday.

During the news conference, Allegheny County executive Rich Fitzgerald said the federal government has pledged to ship 22 million doses of the three vaccines across the country in the next week. That breaks down to more than 3 million shots each day, and Fitzgerald called that good news.