Pennsylvania Health Secretary Signs Order Directing Vaccine Access for Health Care Personnel

Pennsylvania Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine today signed an order directing that a percentage of all vaccine distributions to hospitals, health systems, federally qualified health centers (FQHCs) and pharmacies be designated for health care personnel within Phase 1A, including those health care personnel working in Emergency Medical Services, that are not affiliated with a hospital or health system. This order goes into effect January 6, 2021.

“Getting Pennsylvanians immunized with a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine is an essential step in reducing the number of virus-related cases, hospitalizations and deaths, including all those who continue to take care of us,” Dr. Levine said. “There are nearly one million health care personnel across the commonwealth who work directly or indirectly with patients and are eligible for vaccine initially. The department will continue to follow and update our COVID-19 interim vaccination plan to address how and when all Pennsylvanians can receive their vaccine.”

Health care personnel are defined by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices as paid and unpaid persons serving in health care settings who have the potential for direct or indirect exposure to patients or infectious materials. This may include, but is not limited to, emergency medical service personnel, nurses, nursing assistants, physicians, technicians, therapists, phlebotomists, pharmacists, students and trainees, direct support professionals, clinical personnel in school settings or correctional facilities, contractual staff not employed by the health care facility, and persons (e.g., clerical, dietary, environmental services, laundry, security, maintenance, engineering and facilities management, administrative, billing, and volunteer personnel) not directly involved in patient care but potentially exposed to infectious agents that can be transmitted among from health care personnel and patients.

Interested health care personnel not affiliated with a hospital or health system should take the following steps to ensure they can receive the vaccine:

  • Review the COVID-19 interim vaccination plan, including Phase 1A sub-prioritization guidance;
  • Talk with their employer to identify which type of enrolled COVID-19 vaccine provider is most appropriate;
  • Find a participating location if their employer does not assign one;
  • Be patient with providers;
  • Schedule full vaccine regimen; and
  • Provide necessary documentation when being vaccinated.

This order requires providers to designate at least 10 percent of each vaccine shipment received for vaccination of Phase 1A non-hospital affiliated health care personnel.

The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine and Moderna COVID-19 vaccine will be distributed as outlined in Pennsylvania’s COVID-19 Interim Vaccination Plan.There are three phases to vaccinate residents across the commonwealth. The first phase is broken out into three parts starting with 1A for all health care personnel and those working and living in long-term care facilities.

“The vaccination process will take time. We need Pennsylvanians, including health care personnel to be patient as we continue to get the vaccine into the hands of the right people at the right time so we can protect against COVID-19,” Dr. Levine said. “We appreciate the work of our health systems, hospitals, FQHCs and pharmacies for their partnership on this effort to ensure all health care personnel can receive the vaccine. We are hopeful as we move forward, additional vaccines trials will be completed and receive an Emergency Use Authorization, enhancing the number of vaccines we receive.”

You can find more information regarding the COVID-19 vaccine, guidance and fact sheets for health care personnel and enrolled providers related to this order and the COVID-19 Interim Vaccination Plan at the Department of Health’s website here.