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Pennsylvanians In Phase 1B Are Eligible For The COVID-19 Vaccine

Katie Blackley
90.5 WESA
The state is allowing Phase 1B eligible people to make COVID-19 vaccine appointments. Later this month, all adults will be able to make an appointment, regardless of job, age, or pre-existing conditions.

On today's program: Commonwealth residents in Phase 1B can begin booking appointments today, but there are still thousands of 1A eligible residents who haven’t gotten the shot; more than 100 COVID-19 cases have been connected to a Beaver County ethane cracker site; and award-winning author Bernardine Evaristo tells how one character’s youth in her book “Girl, Woman, Other” is a reflection of Evaristo as a young adult.


Vaccine eligibility is widening in Pennsylvania
(0:00 — 5:28) 

The state is opening up vaccine appointments to groups in 1B today with a plan to begin scheduling all Pennsylvanians starting April 19. 

“About 5.5 million [vaccines] have been distributed [in Pennsylvania],” says WESA health reporter, Sarah Boden. “That all shakes out to maybe roughly a third of Pennsylvanians have received at least one shot.”

Despite the state opening up vaccine eligibility, Boden says there are many people in the 1A category who are still unvaccinated. 

“When it comes to people 65 and older, for example, the state estimates that some 700,000 people are unvaccinated in this age group,” says Boden. “Now it’s unclear what percentage of that group wants the vaccine but is unable to find one.”

A recent poll by Kaiser Health News found 13% of respondents are “definitely not” planning to seek a COVID-19 vaccine. Boden says that number is steadily decreasing as community groups and local municipalities disseminate information about the safety and efficacy of the vaccine.  

Boden says despite increasing vaccine allotment, accessibility remains a large reason some continue to go unvaccinated. 

“The state said that on April 19 some 90% of Pennsylvanians will live within five miles of a vaccination site, and that’s really great, but I want to know: What are the transportation options to get to these vaccination sites? How many buses do you have to take? How frequently do these buses come?” says Boden. “If we don’t pay attention to these very specific problems, there could be some devastating consequences.”

Beaver County ethane cracker site has high COVID-19 ‘activity’
(5;34  — 9:50) 

The Pennsylvania Department of Health visited Shell’s Beaver County ethane cracker site in February after being alerted by high COVID “activity” there.

The cracker is the largest construction site in North America and had more than 100 COVID-19 cases in December.  For StateImpact Pennsylvania, the Allegheny Front’s Reid Frazier reports.

Author Bernardine Evaristo will speak virtually for Pittsburgh Arts & Lectures
(9:54 — 18:00) 

How we perceive ourselves and how others view us are often at odds. Self-perception and self-determination are at the heart of Bernardine Evaristo’s award-winning novel “Girl, Woman, Other”.

“In writing the book, I had to dig deep into the characters’ lives, in order to bring them alive,” says Evaristo of the 12 main characters. Eleven are Black British women and one is non-binary, all ranging in cultural backgrounds, ages, and sexualities.  

“I guess what you then have is this really rich emotional landscape of all these different characters who are all so different from each other, but there is a sort of symphony that is created through all their voices being together in this book.”

Evaristo is the first Black woman to win the Booker prize for fiction, and she’ll be giving a talk virtually as part of the Pittsburgh Arts & Lectures Ten Evening program.

Evaristo says her book, “Girl, Woman, Other” centers the stories of “Black British womxn” because such people have been left out of popular narratives. 

“I think as the mother of all my twelve children, I think that I’m attached to them all equally, although some of them I’m a bit more attached to than others,” says Evaristo, noting that the character Amma, a lesbian playwright, is loosely based on her own young adulthood.

Evaristo’s talk for the Pittsburgh Arts & Lectures Ten Evenings series is available starting today to view anytime this week with the purchase of a ticket. 

The Confluence, where the news comes together, is 90.5 WESA’s daily news program. Tune in weekdays at 9 a.m. to hear newsmakers and innovators take an in-depth look at stories important to the Pittsburgh region. Find more episodes of The Confluence here or wherever you get your podcasts.

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