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January 09, 2021

More people eligible for next phase of COVID-19 vaccinations, state says

The next phase, 1B, will now include those 75 and older, essential workers and those with health issues

Prevention Vaccination
COVID-19_Vaccine_State_rollout.original.original.original_CKE1IJV.jpg Anthony Behar/SIPA USA

The Pennsylvania Department of Health updated its vaccination plan to include more people in the next phase of inoculations.

More Pennsylvanians are now eligible for the next phase in the COVID-19 vaccinations.

The Department of Health announced updates to the state's vaccination rollout plan that now expands Phase 1B to include those aged 75 and older, those with significant health issues and essential workers. 

The state is currently administering vaccinations to Phase 1A which includes health care workers and long-term care facility residents. It has not yet been announced when the state will move to Phase 1B.

Expanding the second group of vaccine recipients, 1B, will ensure a greater group of people can receive the vaccine, as it becomes available, Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine said. The state also created another Phase, 1C, which includes people aged 65-74 and people with high risk conditions such as cancer, COPD, heart conditions and pregnant women. 

Anyone not included in those phases will be eligible for the vaccine in Phase 2.

The vaccination rollout plan is intended to be updated throughout the process to ensure the most up-to-date information and advice is considered. This is the fourth iteration of the plan, according to state officials. 

Health officials said that vaccine supply remains low and the department is working to prioritize people to receive the vaccine that stand to get the maximum benefit and minimum harm from the inoculation.

"My administration is doing everything we can now to prepare for the day when the vaccine is more widely available," Gov. Tom Wolf said. "There are hopeful signs we must embrace. They will help us regain control in a time when many things may seem very out of control.”

So far, the state has fully vaccinated 13,347 people and given the first of the two shots to 209,678 people. In Philadelphia, the city has only administered 40% of its vaccines so far. 

Philadelphia county receives independent federal funding, its own vaccine allotment and is establishing its own administration plan. 

City health officials followed a plan similar to the state, though they define critical infrastructure workers — which includes teachers, transit workers and those who cannot work from home — and residents of congregate settings, like group homes and behavioral health facilities, will get the vaccine right after healthcare workers and nursing home residents. 

After those groups, people over the age of 65 and people with underlying medical conditions are up next, before everyone else is eligible for inoculations. 

The city announced its first mass COVID-19 vaccination site this week. Residents can pre-register for the vaccine through a website that will tell you when you are eligible for the vaccine.

Wolf said it will "take some time" before everyone in the state is vaccinated and asked residents to stay patient. 

“Our recent success in slowing the spread of the virus, and the hope that we’ve been given with the introduction of these vaccines should energize all of us to continue the fight against this disease,” Wolf said. “We need to remain patient as vaccine distribution expands and the Department of Health works to keep everyone informed of the status of vaccine."

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