Most 1A Pennsylvanians Are Projected To Be Vaccinated By End Of March, Wolf Lays Out Next Steps
Gov. Tom Wolf's administration says that any Pennsylvanian who falls into the state’s 1A category for COVID-19 vaccination eligibility should be able to make an appointment by the end of March.
“We expect to be through 1A, pretty much, by the end of March,” said Wolf, who made his announcement on Friday afternoon alongside members of the COVID-19 Vaccine Task Force, which includes both Democratic and Republican state legislators.
Wolf estimated that some 4.5 million people qualify under Phase 1A. The task force projects that by mid-April, 80% of the state’s 1A population will be on track to be fully vaccinated.
The state’s announcement follows President Biden’s Thursday evening speech, when he said that every American adult will be eligible for a COVID-19 vaccination by May 1. The timeline of how quickly these vaccine doses can be administered is less clear, though Biden said he hoped people would be able to gather with family and friends for a “cookout or a barbecue” on Independence Day.
To make sure Pennsylvania achieves this goal, the state will work with local authorities to establish regional vaccination clinics. These clinics will use a portion of the state's one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine allotment, which starting on March 28 is projected to reach 200,000 per week. It’s not clear exactly where these clinics will be located.
Wolf said that shipments of Pfizer and Moderna vaccine doses have also increased and are projected to continue to grow.
“We have some time to figure out how far people should travel, it’s going to depend on population density,” said Wolf.
Currently all Johnson & Johnson vaccine doses have been earmarked for educators and school staff. Once this group is vaccinated, doses that aren’t used at the regional vaccination clinics will be dedicated to various types of frontline workers, who currently fall under the 1B category. Some of these individuals include agricultural, meat processing and grocery store workers.
Task force member Sen. Art Haywood, a Democrat from Philadelphia, noted that many frontline workers are people of color. Minority communities have higher COVD fatality rates than the general population, and public health experts are concerned that structural barriers will prevent many of these individuals from getting vaccinated.
"We can and will achieve equity. But we will need your help," said Haywood. "Let us know your race and ethincity on the form when you register so we can know who is missing."
First responders are also among those next to get vaccine prioritization, though many have already gotten their shots, including the fire and police departments of the City of Pittsburgh, and Peters and North Strabane townships. Staff at the Allegheny County Jail have also started to receive vaccinations.