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State updates COVID vaccine distribution plan

There is a plan for the distribution of COVID-19 vaccine in Pennsylvania, but no dates have been attached yet.

On Friday, Gov. Tom Wolf and Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine announced an update to the state’s distribution plan.

“This update aligns our plan with the latest recommendations from the ACIP and CDC,” Levine said. “Phase 1A has been further defined to identify specific health care providers. Phase 1B is now a significantly larger group of people that includes people age 75 and older, those with significant health issues and essential workers. This update also creates a Phase 1C, which is those people age 65-74 and people with high-risk conditions such as cancer, COPD, hearth conditions and pregnant women, and those essential workers not included in Phase 1A or B.”

“Vaccinations are an important tool in stopping the spread of COVID-19, and the Pennsylvania Department of Health and the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency have done a lot of hard work to facilitate a smooth, strategic vaccine rollout,” Wolf said. “But most of the vaccine distribution process is controlled by the federal government and unfortunately, that means there are a lot of unknowns.”

“While the vaccine supply remains limited the department’s goals are to prioritize persons who receive the vaccine to maximize benefits and minimize harms caused by the virus,” according to a release from Wolf’s office.

The first phase of distribution — Phase 1A — is already under way.

That phase includes health care workers, students in health care fields, residents of long-term care facilities, clinical personnel in schools and correctional institutions, direct care personnel, and a few others.

The second phase — 1B — will reach out to a broader range, including people 75 years old and older.

Also included are people in congregate settings that don’t qualify as long-term care facilities, first responders, corrections officers, food and agricultural workers, grocery store workers, U.S. Postal Service personnel, manufacturing workers, education workers, personnel caring for children and adults in day programs, clergy and other personnel in houses of worship, and public transit workers.

Phase 1C is a new grouping that includes everyone ages 65 to 74, anyone over 16 years of age with high risk conditions, and essential workers in transportation and logistics, water and wastewater, food service, housing construction, finance (including bank tellers), information technology, communications, energy, legal services, government workers, media, public safety, and public health.

Phase 2 — technically the fourth distribution phase under the current plan — includes everyone else who is at least 16 years old and does not have a contraindication — a condition that makes it likely the vaccine would harm the patient.

“It will take time, but a future without COVID-19 is possible, and I thank all Pennsylvanians for joining me in fighting for that future,” Wolf said.

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