About 1,200 Pennsylvania health care workers received covid-19 vaccinations over the past three days as more shipments continue to arrive at dozens of hospitals statewide, Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine said Thursday.
Of the 1,205 vaccinations, no adverse effects have been reported, Levine said. Sixteen of the initial 87 hospitals chosen to receive the first shipments of the Pfizer vaccine have received those shipments. The remaining 71 hospitals will receive them by Friday’s end.
“Things are moving smoothly in Pennsylvania,” Levine said. “Vaccine delivery has not been delayed because of snow so far, and hospitals are working as quickly as possible to administer the vaccine.”
Health care workers and residents and staff of long-term care facilities are the priority for the first round of vaccinations. Long-term care facilities could begin receiving the vaccine Dec. 28.
In Pittsburgh, the VA Pittsburgh Health Care System received its first shipment of the vaccine on Wednesday, according to a release posted to the system’s social media.
“We will offer the limited supply to those who will benefit the most, including those veterans at highest risk of severe illness, and those who are needed to help care for others, like our VA health care personnel,” officials said in the statement.
Later Wednesday, Antonia Bailey at the VA’s long-term care center in O’Hara received the first dose of the vaccine given out by the system. Officials noted that staff vaccinated every eligible veteran living in the nursing home Wednesday.
Levine endorsed guidance from the Food and Drug Administration regarding the revelation that some vaccine vials have excess vaccine in them. Each Pfizer vial is supposed to contain enough for five doses, but some have more. The FDA has said that if a vial has enough for a full sixth dose, then health care providers should go ahead and use that extra dose.
“That is very good information, because then we can immunize more people,” she said.
In Allegheny County, UPMC received the area’s first shipment on Monday, and five employees from a number of UPMC facilities were vaccinated in a live-streamed event. That first shipment included one tray of 975 doses.
Since Monday, UPMC Presbyterian has received two trays for a total of 1,950 doses, and UPMC Mercy received one tray on Wednesday. Mon Valley Hospital in Monongahela has also received one tray of 975 doses
It was not immediately clear whether UPMC or the VA would follow the FDA’s guidance regarding squeezing extra doses out of vials where possible.
Allegheny Health Network and Excela Health facilities are set to receive shipments before week’s end.
Levine noted that the Moderna vaccine’s emergency use authorization precipice of approval by the FDA panel on Thursday, and shipments of that vaccine – which must be kept cold but not at the minus-80 degrees Celsius required for the Pfizer vaccine – could begin next week.
Both vaccines require two shots in order to be effective, with Pfizer’s requiring three weeks in between and Moderna’s four weeks.
Levine said those at Operation Warp Speed take responsibility for setting aside an equal number of doses for the second round of shots. Pennsylvania will have received 97,500 doses of the vaccine by the end of the week.
Megan Guza is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Megan at 412-380-8519, [email protected] or via Twitter .
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