Healthcare workers included in Phase 1 of vaccine plan

HARRISBURG –  Pennsylvania Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine recently signed an order directing that a percentage of all vaccine distributions to hospitals, health systems, federally qualified health centers and pharmacies be designated for health care personnel within Phase 1A, including those health care personnel working in Emergency Medical Services, that are not affiliated with a hospital or health system.

“Getting Pennsylvanians immunized with a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine is an essential step in reducing the number of virus-related cases, hospitalizations and deaths, including all those who continue to take care of us,” Levine said. “There are nearly one million health care personnel across the commonwealth who work directly or indirectly with patients and are eligible for vaccine initially. The department will continue to follow and update our COVID-19 interim vaccination plan to address how and when all Pennsylvanians can receive their vaccine.”

Health care personnel are defined by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices as paid and unpaid persons serving in health care settings who have the potential for direct or indirect exposure to patients or infectious materials.

This may include, but is not limited to, emergency medical service personnel, nurses, nursing assistants, physicians, technicians, therapists, phlebotomists, pharmacists, students and trainees, direct support professionals, clinical personnel in school settings or correctional facilities, contractual staff not employed by the health care facility, and persons (e.g., clerical, dietary, environmental services, laundry, security, maintenance, engineering and facilities management, administrative, billing, and volunteer personnel) not directly involved in patient care but potentially exposed to infectious agents that can be transmitted among from health care personnel and patients.

The order goes into effect January 6, 2021.

The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine and Moderna COVID-19 vaccine will be distributed as outlined in Pennsylvania’s COVID-19 Interim Vaccination Plan. There are three phases to vaccinate residents across the commonwealth. The first phase is broken out into three parts starting with 1A for all health care personnel and those working and living in long-term care facilities.

 “The vaccination process will take time. We need Pennsylvanians, including health care personnel to be patient as we continue to get the vaccine into the hands of the right people at the right time so we can protect against COVID-19,” Levine said. “We appreciate the work of our health systems, hospitals, FQHCs and pharmacies for their partnership on this effort to ensure all health care personnel can receive the vaccine. We are hopeful as we move forward, additional vaccines trials will be completed and receive an Emergency Use Authorization, enhancing the number of vaccines we receive.”