COVID-19 vaccine given to next round of Pittsburgh health workers, including at AHN

PITTSBURGH — More health care workers in the Pittsburgh area got the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine Friday.

Allegheny Health Network, Excela Health and Butler Health System are all part of the plan.

AHN is distributing the vaccine to frontline caregivers across all its hospitals.

The health network’s distribution plan includes a phased approach to vaccination, starting with the most vulnerable populations. Officials said it was developed in accordance with recommendations from the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Pennsylvania Department of Health.

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“AHN is fully prepared to distribute the vaccine as quickly and efficiently as possible to those who are eligible in phase one, and ultimately to all individuals in the communities we serve once greater supplies are available,” Dr. Brian Parker, Chief Quality Officer, said. “While this process will take time, and require continued broad adherence to safety measures such as mask wearing and social distancing, we are excited to begin the first stages of this mass-vaccination effort, which is key to bringing an end to the pandemic.”

Excela Health has close to 1,000 doses of the vaccine that will begin being administered to employees at its hospitals in Greensburg, Mt. Pleasant and Latrobe.

Butler Health System received doses of the vaccine for Butler Memorial Hospital and Clarion Hospital.

Over 80 Pennsylvania hospitals were chosen as the first to receive shipments of the Pfizer vaccine. All of them are expected to have it by day’s end.

Health care workers and staff of long-term care facilities are the priority for the first round of vaccination. Long-term care facilities could begin receiving the vaccine by the end of December.

Parker said a clinical trial indicated the two-dose Pfizer vaccine had an efficacy rate of 95%. For the remaining 5% who might still contract COVID-19, he said the vaccine will lessen the severity of the illness.

People who participated in the clinical trial reported mostly mild to moderate symptoms after receiving the vaccine. Those symptoms included “soreness at the injection site and a feeling of general malaise lasting 1-2 days,” an AHN news release said. Doctors said the side effects signal an immune reaction.