State rolls out COVID-19 vaccine dashboard01/05/2021 03:33PM ● By Richard Gaw
By Richard L. Gaw
Pennsylvania Department of Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine announced last week that the department has the launched the state’s COVID-19 Vaccine Dashboard, an online provider of up-to-date information on the number of vaccinations administered throughout the state, as well as demographic information about the people being vaccinated.
The dashboard can be accessed by visiting the department’s website, www.health.pa.gov.
The data on the dashboard is being compiled by vaccine providers who are reporting information relating to the individuals to whom they administer the COVID-19 vaccine, and is being reported into the Pennsylvania Statewide Immunization Information System (PA-SIIS).
As of Jan. 4, 135,044 partial vaccines have been administered throughout the state, including 3,475 partial vaccinations in Chester County. The highest number of vaccines administered has been recorded in Allegheny County, with 15,491.
“Each day, more and more Pennsylvanians are getting vaccinated against COVID-19, which means we are another step closer to beating this virus,” Dr. Levine said. “The COVID-19 vaccine dashboard will help us visualize how many individuals have received the vaccine to date and help us work to vaccinate everyone who wishes to receive a vaccination.”
Vaccinations: How, when and to whom?
The details of how and when the state will administer the vaccine throughout its 67 counties are included in the health department’s 68-page COVID-19 Interim Vaccination Plan, issued on Dec. 11, 2020 and developed by the department’s COVID-19 Vaccine Task Force. Currently, the department said that 142 hospitals, health systems, federally qualified health centers and pharmacies in the commonwealth have received the COVID-19 vaccine, with 58 locations expected to receive doses very soon.
“Due to changing vaccine supply levels at various points during the COVID-19 Vaccination Program, planning needs to be flexible but as specific as possible to accommodate a variety of scenarios,” the report said. “A key point to consider is that vaccine supply will be limited at the beginning of the program, so the allocation of doses must focus on vaccination providers and settings for vaccination of limited critical populations, ability to handle vaccine storage requirements, as well as outreach to these populations.
“The vaccine supply is projected to increase quickly over the proceeding months, allowing vaccination efforts to be expanded to additional critical populations and the general public.”
The report said that recommendations on the various population groups to receive initial doses of vaccine could change after vaccine is available, depending on each vaccine’s characteristics, vaccine supply, disease epidemiology, and local community factors. As of now, the department is following the vaccine recommendations made by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) and the U.S. Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC).
Phase 1 of the state’s vaccine administration will target the following populations:
• Those most essential in sustaining the ongoing COVID-19 response
• Those at greatest risk of severe illness and death, and their caregivers
• Those most essential to maintaining core societal functions
• Healthcare personnel likely to be exposed to or treating people with COVID-19, and
• Other essential workers.
Recipients of the vaccination considered for Phase 1 include select populations from the following categories: healthcare personnel, first responders, critical workers and people with high-risk conditions.
Close to home, the Chester County Health Department is generally following the same vaccination guidelines being administered by the state. It received its first shipment of the COVID-19 vaccine on December 23, and began Phase 1A of its vaccination during the week of Dec. 28 to frontline healthcare personnel; EMS providers; the coroner, medical examiner and funeral staff; and long-term care residents.
Its subsequent vaccination phases will administer the vaccine to personnel in the following industries:
Phase 1B: childcare, corrections, county and municipal administration, educators and education staff, firefighters, food and agriculture, grocery store employees, law enforcement, manufacturing, transit, U.S. Postal Service, as well as persons 75 years and older.
Phase 1C: construction, energy industry, finance and banking, food service, information technology and communications, legal, media, public health and public safety, small business and trade, transportation and logistics, utility, water and wastewater, persons between 65 and 74 years of age, and persons 16-64 who have high-risk medical conditions.
Currently, there are two authorized and recommended vaccines to prevent COVID-19 which are being distributed throughout Pennsylvania and in Chester County – developed by Biotech-Pfizer and Moderna. Both vaccines have been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and require two doses for full effectiveness. Following an initial vaccination, a second shot is administered three weeks later, in order to get the most protection the vaccine has to offer against COVID-19.
The phased-in roll out of the vaccination plan arrives at a time when the number of positive COVID-19 cases throughout the state is showing very few signs of abating. On Jan. 4, the state’s health department confirmed 3,226 additional positive cases on that day alone, as well as 4,579 cases on Jan. 3 for a two-day total of 7,805 additional positive cases of COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to 665,097.
Currently, there are 5,529 individuals hospitalized with COVID-19 in Pennsylvania -- near double the peak recorded during the spring of 2020 – and of that number, 1,149 patients are in the intensive care unit with COVID-19.
For the week of Dec. 25-31, statewide positivity for the virus stood at 15 percent, and the trend in the 14-day moving average of the number of hospitalized patients per day has increased by nearly 5,400 since the end of September.
For questions related to COVID-19 or the administration of the vaccine in Chester County, call the Chester County Health Department at 610-344-6225, Monday - Friday from 8:30 a.m to 4:30 p.m., or visit chesco.org.
For statewide information about COVID-19, visit www.health.pa.gov.
To contact Staff Writer Richard L. Gaw, email [email protected].