New registration tool coming as Allegheny Co. Health Department offers vaccine to more people

PITTSBURGH — COVID-19 cases in Allegheny County are climbing as the area braces for a possible spring surge. The Allegheny County Health Department announced Wednesday it is now accepting and vaccinating everyone who falls under Pennsylvania’s Phase 1A criteria.

According to the Health Department’s website, its clinics will vaccinate people ages 65 and older, as well as people ages 18 to 64 (16 for the Pfizer vaccine) with Phase 1A underlying health conditions that include:

  • 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
  • Type 2 diabetes mellitus

New registration tool coming

Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald announced there will be a new registration tool for people to sign up for vaccine appointments.

The system will be only for appointments at vaccination sites run by the Allegheny County Health Department, not for the entire county.

“One challenge we have had throughout has been the vaccine distribution, the registration system,” Fitzgerald said.

It will be released next week and will allow people to pre-register for appointments. You will then be notified when you are eligible to get the vaccine and at which clinic you’ll be able to get it.

Fitzgerald said this will help prevent people from signing up for appointments for which they are not eligible. It’s causing issues in the current system, and leading to canceled appointments.

Scheduling online appointments in the current system will end Friday morning and phone appointments will end Friday evening.

Early next week, the details of the new registration system will be online.

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Average age of cases dropping

On Wednesday, ACHD officials reported nearly 500 new cases in the county in the past 24 hours, and 10 new deaths, including a person in their 30s.

“Like what we experienced in June last year, the median age of cases fell by nearly a decade over the past few weeks and is now in the low 30s,” said ACHD Director Dr. Debra Bogen.

She said there’s been an increase in cases among younger people with a major decline in cases among people aged 65 and older. Bogen said that owes to the fact that most older people have already been vaccinated.

Bogen said the 7-day rolling positivity rate in the county increased to 6% from 5.4% the week before. Daily case counts and daily hospitalizations have also increased.

She said there are also 33 confirmed cases of the U.K. variant in Allegheny County. Fewer than 1% of cases undergo genotyping, which determines which strain of COVID-19 has made a person ill.