PA expands vaccination eligibility to 65 years and older; UPMC vaccinates employees who serve weak populations
With Covid deaths at 400,000 in the US – with multiple effective vaccines – it is figuring out where the first limited doses will work best.
To prioritize the greatest impact among the Phase 1A groups, UPMC vaccinated workers at their South Side Clinic Tuesday afternoon with the Violence Prevention Initiative, the Neighborhood Resilience Project and Casa San Jose.
By getting these community lawyers vaccinated, they hope to combat vaccine reluctance in vulnerable populations, often minorities, where Covid has had a disproportionately horrific effect.
“We know that health takes place outside of the health system,” says Dr. Maya Ragavan, a health equity expert who helped UPMC set up the prioritization system.
“And the work of the community health organizers – like the three organizations here today – is really lifesaving and is crucial to improving health and wellbeing. That’s why I think it’s very important that we improve their work, ”says Ragavan.
The Violence Prevention Initiative, a project by the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health, provides holistic services to incarcerated people, helping them re-enter their communities and not go back to prison. The Violence Prevention Initiative offers mentoring, workforce development and training, family reunification education and housing support planning. They have teamed up to train workers in areas ranging from manufacturing to food service to construction.
“The Neighborhood Resilience Project has trained over 100 community health officials who work in and around Pittsburgh’s communities providing health education around Covid, masks, PPE (personal protective equipment), and more,” says Ragavan.
“Casa San Jose is particularly working with Pittsburgh’s growing Latino community, doing a lot of lifesaving, supporting, and promoting their health and wellbeing.”
A total of 100 people from these organizations will be vaccinated.
Ragavan himself was vaccinated as part of Moderna’s clinical studies.
“It was interesting to be part of history and contribute to science in that way,” she says.
State extends vaccination eligibility
On Tuesday the state announced that vaccination eligibility would be expanded to approximately 3.5 million Pennsylvanians.
“Pennsylvania is expanding its vaccination efforts to include those over 65 and those ages 16 to 64 with serious illnesses who are at greater risk for serious illnesses due to COVID-19,” said Cindy Findley, Pennsylvania’s Assistant Secretary of Health for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention and Head of the State Vaccine Task Force.
To start the process, you will need to take a vaccine aptitude quiz. Then there is a map that you can use to find the nearest vaccine supplier.
On Tuesday evening, the director of the Allegheny County’s Department of Health, Dr. Debra Bogen, a statement clarifying that current supplies will be limited to only about 20,000 doses per week, so the health department will continue to focus on those in the original Phase 1A cohort – mostly healthcare workers – until they are fully vaccinated.
“In the coming weeks the public health department will announce its revised plans for an expanded introduction of vaccines,” said Bogen in her statement. “These plans will primarily reach residents aged 75 and over and those over 65 with specific health conditions through large vaccination clinics, mobile clinics and pop-up events.”
Vaccinations are carried out at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Pittsburgh-Monroeville Convention Center in Monroeville.
“Healthcare workers who are eligible for Phase 1A vaccination will receive a registration link from the county and use that link to schedule a vaccine appointment,” said Bogen. “This link should not be shared outside of the intended recipients. Anyone who books an appointment at the Monroeville location and is not authorized to do so will be turned away. Those who do not have an appointment will also be rejected. “
UPMC prioritizes 1A recipients in the categories described here.
“We are committed to vaccinating more members of the communities we serve as soon as possible,” said a UPMC statement. “The most effective way for the public to continue protecting themselves and others is to wear a mask over your mouth and nose and practice physical distancing and hand washing.”
A patient hotline with a recorded message of the latest vaccine updates at 1-833-299-4359.
The health department has a vaccine update source called Allegheny Alerts, which allows you to specify whether to receive messages by text, email, or phone.
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