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Health, Science & Tech

Mass Vaccination Clinics Announced As Region Experiences Fourth Wave Of COVID-19 Cases

upmc_photo_covid_vaccination_lemieux_03172021.jpg
Courtesy of UPMC
Drivers wait for their shots at a drive-thru vaccination clinic hosted by UPMC in March.

Two of the region’s largest health care providers have announced dates for two-day mass vaccination clinics for individuals who fall within the state’s phase 1A and 1B categories. Allegheny Health Network and UPMC will vaccinate about 25,000 people at the separate clinics with the Johnson and Johnson vaccine.

Allegheny Health Network has partnered with the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency, the Pennsylvania National Guard and the Allegheny County Health Department to stand up a two-day clinic at the Next Tier Connect office building in Monroeville Friday and Saturday.

The clinic will be able to vaccinate 13,000 eligible individuals with the one-shot Johnson and Johnson vaccine. Those eligible and interested in receiving the vaccine can visit AHN’s website or call 412-DOCTORS to schedule an appointment. No walk-in appointments will be accepted.

Next week, UPMC and the Pittsburgh Penguins will host a two-day mass vaccination clinic at the Galleria at Pittsburgh Mills in Tarentum. The clinic will be able to vaccinate 12,000 eligible individuals over the course of two days. UPMC estimates it will administer up to 700 vaccines per hour at the drive-thru style clinic.

Patients will arrive in their cars, confirm their appointments, receive a vaccine and park for the duration of the aftercare waiting period. UPMC hosted a similar drive-thru clinic in March at the UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex in Cranberry.

Those eligible and interested in receiving the vaccine can visit UPMC’s website or call 833-676-1995 for mass clinic appointments. No walk-in appointments will be accepted.  

Both health systems are also holding clinics at various facilities throughout the county. All clinics are by appointment only.

“The partnership between the Health Department and our major health systems has made all of the difference in controlling the spread of the virus and getting the vaccine out to those in our community who are most at need,” Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald said in a release.

County officials applauded the planned clinics at a press conference Wednesday.

“While AHN and UPMC run these large sites, the health department will continue to focus on filling the gaps and meeting unmet needs,” said Dr. Debra Bogen, director of the Allegheny County Health Department.

The County also announced a new clinic in McKeesport Wednesday. The clinic’s opening comes as the state prepares to make the vaccine eligible to every Pennsylvanian who is age 16 or older on April 19.

Meanwhile, new COVID-19 cases have skyrocketed in Allegheny County. Bogen said Wednesday case counts over the last few days have been the highest so far in 2021. Hospitalizations are also slowly increasing. Bogen said the county’s “fourth wave” won’t likely end soon.

“I don’t expect cases to decline at least for a couple of weeks,” Bogen said Wednesday. Health Department officials believe the spike is the result of residents flouting COVID-19 guidelines as the weather warms.

“We know the cause. Large gatherings with no physical distancing or masks mixed with the variant viruses in our community,” Bogen said.

Death counts had been decreasing since December, but as of late March have begun to increase, according to Bogen.

Health Department officials pleaded with residents to continue practicing safety precautions like wearing masks, social distancing and avoiding large gatherings.  

“The next few months are the final push and we must all exercise self-restraint,” Bogen said. “This is not the time to give up.”

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