What’s Causing The Lag in Covid-19 Vaccination Rates in Rural Northeastern PA
March 17, 2021
The race to get the COVID-19 vaccine into people as quickly as possible is on across the United States and around the world. Pennsylvania is doing good but many think they can be doing much better, especially after the Johnson & Johnson vaccine was rolled out last week, in addition to Pfizer and Moderna. As of March 16, according to Data.Citizen-Times.com, neighboring New York State had administered 6,571.852 total doses, including 4,404,294 receiving one dose and those fully vaccinated at 2,160,663. By comparison, Pennsylvania had administered 4,340,831 total doses, which included 2,901,757 at one dose and 1,442,681 fully vaccinated. Pennsylvania has four groups for vaccinations: 1A, 1B 1C and 2. The state is currently in Phase 1A. By comparison, North Carolina, which has Groups 1-5, is currently vaccinating those with special health risks in Group 4 and also 1-3. The rest of Group 4 will be eligible by April 7. So why is Pennsylvania not keeping up?
While there hasn’t been a clear cut answer, Governor Tom Wolf has been taken to task over the vaccine rollout across the state, with some news sources, including Philly.com (The Philadelphia Inquirer) saying he had a vaccine distribution plan for years, so why didn’t he use it for COVID-19? They also state that officials in the Philadelphia suburbs can’t inoculate everyone in group 1A by May 1 unless they get a lot more vaccine. Other areas, like those in rural Northeastern Pennsylvania, are also lagging behind when it comes to vaccination rates. So much so that according to published reports, Wayne Memorial Community Health Centers reached out to state officials, as well as the Pike County Commissioners and State Senator Lisa Baker for more vaccine. In an exclusive comment to Paychecktalk.com, Baker said, “The governor has admitted errors and difficulties in the state rollout of vaccines. When Wayne Memorial, an outstanding provider of proven capabilities, alerted me to their short supply, I promptly intervened as I have in similar situations facing local officials, community leaders and health care providers throughout the region. The faster that people can have access to receive the protection provided by vaccination, the more we can hope to move up the day for fully reopening the economy and resuming post-pandemic lives.”
Officials from Wayne Memorial Hospital, Honesdale, could not be reached for comment for this story but the published report said the health system, which serves Wayne, Pike, southeastern Susquehanna County and the Carbondale area in Lackawanna County, had typically been getting 1,000 doses or less per week. Thanks to the outreach, the number doubled to 2,000 of the Moderna vaccine. The health system opened up two clinics to administer the vaccine and both were booked within hours. The hospital itself received 500 doses. As of March 15, according to the report, 20% of Wayne County residents had received one or both doses of the vaccine. It was approximately 15% in Susquehanna County and 13% in Pike County.
The hope is with the decline in new COVID-19 cases, combined with ramped up vaccination efforts, life can return in a more relaxed fashion.