Health Officials Remain Optimistic About a Spring/Summer Vaccine Rollout to the General Public

Tiffany Husak, left, a nursing student at the Community College of Allegheny County, receives her first dose of the Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine, during a vaccination clinic hosted by the University of Pittsburgh and the Allegheny County Health Department at the Petersen Events Center, in Pittsburgh, Thursday, Jan. 28, 2021. The clinic, staffed by Pitt faculty and students from Pharmacy, Nursing, Medicine, and Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, will vaccinate some 800 personnel, over two days, who are work in healthcare roles, including students from Chatham College, Community College of Allegheny County, Duquesne University, LaRoche University, Pittsburgh Technical College and Pitt who work with patients. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

By Patrick Abdalla

February 9, 2021

Gov. Tom Wolf had said he would like the general public to get vaccinated by then.

HARRISBURG — Officials at the state Department of Health still expect the general public to begin being vaccinated some time in the spring or early summer, said Lindsey Mauldin, a senior advisor in the department.

“We still think that’s a realistic goal,” Mauldin said Tuesday. “Again, we’re going to have to work closely with our federal partners and with our local partners as well.”

Gov. Tom Wolf said earlier this year that he would like to see the general public vaccinated by then.

That news might surprise some Pennsylvanians who have read about some issues with the state’s rollout of the coronavirus vaccines.

Those issues included the state lagging behind the rest of the country when it comes to the percent of vaccines administered. That issue even led to some Democrats criticizing Wolf’s administration and its ability to distribute the vaccine among providers.

It has also led to a new COVID-19 Vaccination Joint Task Force with the General Assembly.

Since the first vaccines were distributed on Dec. 16, a little more than 1 million people have received their first dose of the vaccine; of those, 302,639 have also received second doses.

With more than 4 million people in Phase 1A of the vaccine rollout, and state officials still promising to go through Phase 1B, 1C, and Phase 2 before they begin distributing doses to the general public, health officials have set large goals. 

New Tool for the Department of Health

Mauldin talked about YourTurn, one of the tools the department hopes to use as it distributes vaccines. The webpage is set up for Pennsylvanians younger than 65–since all senior citizens are already eligible—to find out when they’re allowed to be vaccinated.

“YourTurn helps everyone understand when it is their turn,” she said.

The website doesn’t register residents. If a resident sees on the website that they’re eligible, they must contact a local provider to register for the vaccine.

The state has avoided setting up a central registration hub for residents, instead relying on local providers to provide that service.

Mauldin echoed other state health officials who have said that residents will be better served if that process is done locally. 

Task Force Set Up

Mauldin said the administration’s new task force will give the department a way to work with the legislature about vaccine efforts and get feedback from legislators.

“I think it’s very important for us to be collaborative with our legislative partners,” Mauldin said, “but then also to be working internally to figure out the best path forward in our vaccine distribution.”

Acting Secretary of Health Alison Beam and Director of the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency Randy Padfield will be the co-chairpeople of the task force. Other members are state Sens. Art Haywood (D-Montgomery) and Ryan Aument (R-Lancaster), and state Reps. Bridget Kosierowski (R-Lackawanna) and Tim O’Neal (R-Washington).

Kosierowski is a nurse. 


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