Since the first shipment of COVID-19 vaccine arrived in mid-December to boisterous cheers at WellSpan Good Samaritan Hospital, progress has been steady.
“WellSpan Health has been able to vaccinate thousands of frontline caregivers and team members across the health system,” wrote WellSpan spokesman Ryan Coyle in an email.
LebTown requested a status report this week on the vaccination effort, which Coyle provided.
He wrote that WellSpan’s vaccination program, which began Dec. 18, follows Centers for Disease Control guidance and is aligned with the Pennsylvania Department of Health’s interim, three-phase vaccination plan.
“Phase one is underway, and it focuses on vaccinating critical populations due to the limited vaccine supply,” Coyle said. “This includes health care personnel, EMS first responders, critical workers maintaining core functions, essential workers, people 65 and older, and residents in congregate care settings.”
During the final two phases – anticipated later this year as more supply becomes available – WellSpan expects to be able to offer vaccinations to its patients and the community in general, he wrote.
More specifically, phase two focuses on expanded vaccination efforts for vulnerable populations and those with high-risk health conditions, while the goal of phase three is to provide a safe and effective vaccine for the population at large.
Coyle apologized for not having more information on when later phases will start, adding that “it’s still early in this long process.”
At present, state data shows that 1,204 Lebanon Countians have received a partial (half-dose) vaccine to date and 16 are fully vaccinated. WellSpan did not provide specific vaccination numbers for Good Samaritan Hospital to LebTown.
“An effective vaccine will stop the spread of COVID-19 so everyone is encouraged to receive one when eligible per the (state Health Department) phased plan,” he said, noting that WellSpan has administered both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.
“The vaccine is an important tool in helping to stop the spread of COVID-19,” Coyle emphasized, but must be combined with other prevention efforts such as hand-washing, mask-wearing and social distancing.
So far, “employed, contracted and independent providers, clinical and ancillary support staff, and state registered EMS first responders actively working in the areas who may come in direct contact with COVID-19 patients in either inpatient or outpatient settings have been invited to sign up to get vaccinated,” he explained in his email.
“Starting earlier this week, we began inviting independent health care providers and staff within our communities to be vaccinated in our PODs (points of distribution). We have seven PODs at each of our hospitals across southcentral PA,” including one in Lebanon at WellSpan Good Samaritan.
WellSpan also just added extra points of distribution, which will have the Moderna vaccine, he said.
Coyle stressed the vaccines’ safety and effectiveness, writing that they “have been tested through rigorous scientific and federal regulatory processes.”
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