The number 13 is considered unlucky by some, but the number 13,000 won’t be to the 13,000 area residents who will receive the COVID-19 vaccine this week courtesy of St. Luke’s University Health Network.
The health network said Monday that it will put 9,000 first doses and 4,000 booster shots in arms in the countless communities it serves across eastern Pennsylvania.
“St. Luke’s has 10 hospital-based mass vaccination sites that, if given enough supply, could vaccinate up to 5,000 people per day,” a news release noted.
It also clarified that SLUHN has expanded its vaccine scheduling efforts to include all individuals who qualify under the Pennsylvania Department of Health’s Phase 1a eligibility guidelines, including those ages 16 to 64 with underlying health conditions.
Since receiving its first shipment of the vaccine in mid-December, St. Luke’s said it has administered more than 150,000 doses to eligible Pennsylvanians who want to be vaccinated against COVID-19. The network’s all-hands-on-deck approach has been supported by nurses who’ve come out of retirement to help as well as nursing students, among others.
Although the Biden administration has set a May 1 target for mass vaccine availability across the United States, many residents already qualified to receive it in Pennsylvania and other states have struggled to make appointments over the winter months. Consquently Facebook groups like the locally-administered Eastern PA Covid Vaccine Finder have been created specifically to help individuals find appointments, not only at hospitals, but also in pharmacies and via health bureaus. According to public health officials, the chief obstacle to vaccinating more people, faster, has been a limited supply of the Pfizer, Moderna, and more recently, Johnson & Johnson vaccines.
Calling Biden’s timeline for administering vaccine doses to all Americans who want them “bold,” Pennsylvania governor Tom Wolf last week promised to supercharge the state’s rollout, which after three months is still in its initial phase (although access was recently expanded to include educators).
“My administration is taking aggressive steps to meet (the Biden administration’s) timeline, and we are fortunate to have the leadership and partnership of President Biden and his administration as we work to protect the people of Pennsylvania,” Wolf said Friday.
Nearly one million Pennsylvanians over the age of 65 have received at least one dose of vaccine, and more than 72,000 people are being vaccinated daily, the news release said.
A priority for the state moving forward will be to vaccinate front line workers in “targeted
industries,” including law enforcement and corrections officers, grocery workers, career and volunteer firefighters, and meat processing and agricultural workers.
To register to receive the vaccine with St. Luke’s University Health Network, individuals are asked to create a MyChart account at SLHN.org. Account holders can complete a questionnaire and register to be notified when the vaccine is available to them.
This week’s vaccine appointments have already been filled, and were issued to people who preregistered via St. Luke’s MyChart, the health network said. It added that certain individuals without access to the internet who are 1a-eligible are also being scheduled.