Pennsylvania Human Services Agency Published COVID-19 Update

Stopping a pandemic requires using all the tools available. Vaccines are safe, effective, and the best way to protect  you and those around you from serious illnesses. Vaccines work with your immune system so your body will be ready to fight the virus if you are exposed. Other steps, such as wearing masks and social distancing, help reduce your chance of being exposed to the virus or spreading it to others. Together, COVID-19 vaccination and following the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC’s) recommendations to protect yourself and others will offer the best protection from COVID-19. In Pennsylvania, the COVID-19 vaccine will be distributed in a phased approach.

Vaccine Allocation & Eligibility

In order to facilitate vaccine distribution across Pennsylvania, Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine signed an an order on December 30, 2020, directing at least 10 percent of each vaccine shipment to hospitals, health systems, federally-qualified health centers, and pharmacies be designated for non-hospital affiliated health care personnel who would otherwise be included in Phase 1A of Pennsylvania’s Interim Vaccination Plan.

Health care personnel as defined in Phase 1A:

  • Physicians, nurses, nursing assistants, technicians, therapists, phlebotomists, emergency medical service personnel, direct support professionals (in-home and community-based services and adult day facilities), staff of long-term care facilities that have residents prioritized in 1A, staff in residential care providers serving children, pharmacists, clinical personnel in school-settings or correctional facilities, contractual staff working in but not employed by the health care facility, and people who are not involved in patient care who could be exposed to COVID-19 like dietary, environmental services, laundry, security, maintenance, facilities management, and other administrative staff as defined in the Interim Vaccination Plan.

Long-term care facilities as defined in Phase 1A includes:
Note: Long-term care facility staff are considered health care personnel and long-term care facility residents are also in Phase 1A.

  • Skilled Nursing Facilities, Personal Care Homes, Assisted Living Facilities, Private Intermediate Care Facilities for Individuals with Developmental Disabilities, Community Group Homes, Residential Treatment Facilities for Adults, Long-term Structured Residences, State Veterans Homes, State Centers, private psychiatric hospitals, and State Hospitals.

Federal Pharmacy Partnership Program Update

The Federal Pharmacy Partnership for Long-Term Care Facilities is expanding to start vaccinating personal care homes and assisted living facilities also covered through Phase 1A. Facilities registered to be vaccinated through the partnership will be contacted by either CVS or Walgreens to schedule vaccination. More information can be found from the Pennsylvania Department of Health.

Finding a Vaccine Provider

The Department of Health recently released a map of providers that can administer a COVID-19 vaccine to anyone covered by Phase 1A. Anyone covered under Phase 1A that has not yet received a COVID-19 vaccine can contact any of these providers to check availability and schedule their vaccination, but we encourage providers to contact sites and coordinate for their employees who are eligible. Employees should be prepared to show proof of employment.

*NOTE: Long-term care facility staff and residents may be eligible for the Federal Pharmacy Partnership Program for Long-Term Care facilities. The Federal Pharmacy Partnership Program is currently prioritizing skilled nursing facilities at this time. If your facility is enrolled in the program, CVS and Walgreens may have already reached out to schedule a vaccination date with your facility. However, if your facility has not already scheduled a vaccination date with CVS or Walgreens, your facility is encouraged to contact your local vaccine provider available at the above link. The Department of Human Services and Department of Health are also working together on additional solutions to expedite vaccine distribution to DHS-licensed facilities.

Additional Vaccine Resources

COVID-19 Vaccine FAQ: Long-Term Facilities