BRADFORD COUNTY — All around the county residents are making the decision on whether or not they would like to get the COVID-19 vaccine.
So far, there have been three options of vaccines available to the public: Johnson & Johnson’s, which is a one-shot vaccination, the Moderna and the Pfizer-BioNTech, which both are two-shot vaccines.
Bradford County Emergency Management department has been working with Pennsylvania’s Department of Health officials on vaccine rollouts for the county.
The DOH has used a “rollout plan” for “phases” of when the shots are available to the public and when shots will be distributed to the county for residents.
In Bradford County alone, there are federal allocations in Towanda and state and federal allocations in Sayre, according to the map on the DOH’s website.
Sarah Neely, Emergency Management Coordinator, stated that there has been some discrepancy on what the public knows about the vaccines and the timeline as to when the county actually has available appointments for it.
“Our healthcare partners have been amazing, but they are supposed to get weekly distributions of the vaccine and sometimes those vaccines don’t show up when they’re supposed to,” said Neely. “It seems to be lately the second doses.
According to the website, the Department of Health has two phases, with phase one having three subcategories.
Phase 1A is the first vaccine distribution step. The vaccine is currently being distributed to:
Long-term care facility residents and health care personnel including, but not limited to:
• Emergency medical service personnel
• Nursing assistants
• Dental hygienists
• Pharmacy technicians
• Health professions students and trainees
• Direct support professionals
• Clinical personnel in school settings or correctional facilities
• Contractual HCP not directly employed by the health care facility
• Persons not directly involved in patient care but potentially exposed to infectious material that can transmit disease among or from health care personnel and patients
• Persons ages 65 and older
• Persons ages 16-64 with high-risk conditions as identified by the CDC Opens In A New Window
“As part of our targeted vaccine efforts, we also are vaccinating teachers and child care workers and frontline groups that became eligible on March 31: Law enforcement, Firefighters, Grocery store employees, Food/agriculture workers,” the website reads.
Currently, the state is in phase 1B, which opened April 5 and includes:
• People in congregate settings not otherwise specified as long-term care facilities, and persons receiving home and community-based services
• Correctional officers and other workers serving people in congregate care settings not included in Phase 1A
• Education workers not covered under the special initiative, including those in higher education
• U.S. Postal Service workers
• Manufacturing workers
• Clergy and other essential support for houses of worship
• Public transit workers
Phase 1C opens April 12 to include individuals not mentioned above. All individuals not previously covered who are 16 and older and do not have a contraindication to the vaccine (note that at this time, only the Pfizer-BioNTech product is approved for those age 16 and 17).
The second phase is scheduled to be implemented on April 19, but Neely says that’s going to be nearly impossible.
“While it’s well and good that the Governor has this new rollout plan to have everyone vaccinated by April 19, I don’t foresee that ever going to happen due to not getting the current vaccines we need in order to finish Phase 1A patients.”
Her worry is that people may not even be able to get the second dose of the vaccine in time, which has a time limit of 4-6 weeks from the time of the first shot.
Retail pharmacies also distribute vaccines, but have yet to administer second doses for a lot of patients because of this reason, and also due to contract changes.
Though there is an option to set up appointments in Sayre, that is open to anyone who would like to get a vaccine, even those in Philadelphia, according to Neely.
Regional sites are also set up and Neely says the closest one is in Luzerne County.
Each individual has the choice on whether or not they will get the vaccine, but Neely says in order for things to “go back to normal” she think more people will have to get on board and get their vaccination. She recommends that anyone considering the vaccine to do their research beforehand and be knowledgable before making the decision and make the right decision for you.
“People need to understand the April 19 date is for them to schedule an appointment, not necessarily get the vaccine,” said Neely. “With no official distribution number for the vaccines and when they will actually be delivered to the clinics, it is hard to predict when those scheduled will actually get their vaccine but it will allow the state a hard number to meet the demands of the clinics.”
She said that Tioga County has a site in Wellsboro that is available for appointments.
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