Pa. Acting Health Secretary Alison Beam, left, and Gov. Tom Wolf speak during an online media briefing on Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021. (Source: PA.gov)
Pa. Acting Health Secretary Alison Beam, left, and Gov. Tom Wolf speak during an online media briefing on Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021. (Source: PA.gov)

Pennsylvania has completed the process of providing Covid-19 shots to all nursing home patients and staff who wanted to be vaccinated, Gov. Tom Wolf said Tuesday.

Both first and second doses have been completed at all state-licensed facilities through the federal government's vaccination partnership with CVS and Walgreens, Wolf said.

"This is an important milestone," Wolf said, adding that the sooner Pennsylvania can vaccinate its most vulnerable, the sooner it can expand vaccination to the general public.

Statewide, CVS and Walgreens provided more than 315,000 doses at nursing homes, the Department of Health said.

CVS was responsible for the majority, providing vaccinations at more than 500 of Pennsylvania's more than 600 licensed nursing homes. The pharmacy chain administered more than 200,000 doses, representative Andreas Chandra said.

Going forward, the state Health Department will work to ensure that nursing homes' incoming patients and new staff have access to vaccination, acting Health Secretary Alison Beam said.

Vaccination is progressing at other long-term care facilities, including personal care homes and assisted living facilities. Each facility will have a minimum of three vaccination clinics, and some will have more, Beam said.

All first doses at personal care homes and assisted living facilities should be completed by the end of this month, Wolf said, and second doses by mid-March. CVS is on track to complete vaccination by then at more than 1,800 long-term care facilities, Chandra said.

Wolf said vaccine deliveries delayed by last week's winter storms are being completed, and that shipments should be fully caught up by the end of the week. In addition, the state's reallocation of doses to compensate for earlier misuses of second Moderna doses as first doses is on track, and no further problems in that area are expected, Beam said.

Lancaster County is home to 32 of Pennsylvania's licensed nursing homes, with a total of 4,136 beds.

Conestoga View, the largest, has 446 beds. Last spring, an outbreak there during the first Covid-19 wave claimed the lives of 75 residents, one of the worst tolls in the country.

Another Lancaster County nursing home, The Gardens at Stevens, with 82 beds, is facing potential legal action after 39 deaths there.

Vaccination has been voluntary. The department did not immediately respond to an inquiry regarding how many patients or staff may have declined the shots.

Public health officials have expressed concerns over vaccine hesitancy and its potential to limit vaccination. Locally, only about half of first responders have been vaccinated, LNP newspaper reported.

To achieve herd immunity against Covid-19 would require about 70% of the population either to be vaccinated or to have recovered from the disease and have active antibodies, experts estimate.

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