Updates to Pennsylvania’s COVID-19 Vaccine Rollout

Posted Feb 25, 2021, by Paul Fedore


Considering the importance of knowledge and information around the COVID-19 vaccine, I joined Senator Camera Bartolotta’s telephone town hall last Thursday, where many issues concerning the rollout of the vaccine were discussed. CCJ understands the importance of this information and wants to make sure that everyone in our community receives it; therefore, I have written a summary of the information that was provided.

With Pennsylvania struggling to meet the supply demands for the COVID-19 vaccine, members of the state’s legislative joint task force have been working tirelessly to ensure that the second doses of the vaccine are available. They have added new members to their staff, and last week, the state purchased more of Moderna vaccine’s second dose to ensure that all Pennsylvanians who want and need to get their vaccine can receive it as quickly and efficiently as possible.

The task force has been working closely with the new administration to figure out ways to increase the availability of the vaccine so that Phase 1A can be completed and the following phases of the vaccine can proceed as quickly as possible. They have asked the manufacturers to ramp up their production of the vaccine. The more doses of the vaccine that are available, the faster we should be able to move through the phases of the rollout. If the manufacturers can increase production rates, we are going to need additional volunteer distributors and distribution centers in order to distribute the vaccine.

The CDC has approved the use of a smaller needle for administering the vaccine, which will be used for the second round. This will ultimately save on waste and may allow more doses to be distributed effectively. There are also other options they are looking into to make the process more efficient.

Most residents know that since we are currently still in Phase 1A of the vaccine rollout, it is only available to individuals who meet certain criteria, including people aged 65 and older, health care personnel, residents of long-term care facilities, and people aged 16-64 with high-risk conditions. However, not everyone who meets those criteria can access the site to register for the vaccine because they don’t have internet and/or computer access, an issue that is common to many people who live in more rural areas of the state. There is a telephone line that people can call to obtain information on providers of the vaccine and to get registered for it, but people have complained that they call the number and are directed to a website that they cannot access because they don’t have internet service. Two weeks ago, new members were added to the call center staff and were directed to provide information and resources about vaccine providers and how to register. This way, the information needed is provided to everyone, not just those with internet and computer access.

Members of the task force hope to provide a more detailed PSA to our community members over the radio and via television ads and newsletters with information on vaccine providers and how to register to receive the vaccine – another way to help residents who do not have access to the internet or a computer. You can also visit your local hospital or medical center to obtain information.

As for homebound residents who qualify to receive the vaccine now but can’t leave their homes, the task force is looking into partnering with Johnson and Johnson to have people go to these residents’ homes to administer the vaccine. This vaccine has not yet been approved, but it could be approved as early as the end of March. Soon after, the task force hopes to implement this plan.

CVS & Walgreens are going to retirement and senior care homes to administer vaccines, and members of the task force have been in communication with senior care facilities and high rises to come up with a plan for how to administer the vaccine in these communities.

There have been some reports about the Pfizer vaccine not being as effective against certain variants of the virus. The task force is searching for ways to deal with these variants. This could result in modifying the booster shot in order to make it more effective, or possibly adding a third round of the vaccine. Nothing is set in stone as of right now, as the situation is in flux.

If you have any questions or concerns regarding the virus and your health, it is important for you to consult with your PCP before receiving the vaccine. They will be able to provide you with the information you need.

The members of the task force want all Pennsylvanians to know that they are not only focused on doing everything in their power to ensure the residents of this state receive both rounds of the vaccine as quickly as possible, but also what life on the other side of the pandemic will be like. The virus has had a major impact on many residents and the economy of this state and country. Members of the task force want to ensure this type of economic harm doesn’t happen again, and in case it does happen again, they want to make sure that the state is better prepared to deal with this type of situation so they can better meet the needs of the residents of the state.

For more information on COVID-19 vaccinations in Pennsylvania, please visit PA Department of Health’s website COVID-19 Vaccines.


  • Paul Fedore

    Paul Fedore has been a resident of Washington County since 2016 and previously worked with Washington County United, a chapter of PA United, as a canvasser fighting for economic, environmental, and racial justice. He loves camping, hiking, fishing, and boating. Paul joined CCJ’s team in July 2020 as the Field Program Coordinator to help deepen and strengthen our relationships with communities in southwestern Pennsylvania and to ensure that people have a pathway to engage in improving their communities. As of late 2023, Paul is now a Community Organizer, and is excited to work with everyone to hold fossil fuel companies and our elected officials accountable and to organize to build power in our small towns and rural communities. Contact Paul at paul@centerforcoalfieldjustice.org.

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