Vaccine

DOYLESTOWN >> The Bucks County Commissioners announced on Feb. 11 that COVID vaccination clinics will be operating at all three Bucks County Community College campuses beginning Feb. 16.

The clinics collectively will administer 600 initial doses of Moderna vaccine per day by appointment to people eligible for the 1A phase of Pennsylvania’s vaccine rollout. They will operate Tuesdays through Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., contingent on adequate supplies of vaccine.

Vaccine recipients will be selected from a database of almost 200,000 people and businesses that have pre-registered for vaccinations coordinated through the Bucks County Health Department. Those in the 1A grouping who registered earliest will be summoned first, the commissioners said.

The 1A category comprises healthcare workers, emergency medical workers, those age 65 and older, and those who are 16 to 64 and have health conditions meeting the 1A requirements. For more information about eligibility and to access the pre-registration link, visit Bucks County’s coronavirus vaccine information page.

Invitations have been sent out by email, offering appointments at this week’s clinics, Interim Emergency Services Director Audrey Kenny said during a virtual news conference.

Emailed invitations will arrive from an address called info@trackmysolutions.us, Kenny said, while those who do not have access to email will be notified by phone.

Clinics will operate at all three community college campuses: the Upper Bucks campus at 1 Hillendale Road in Perkasie; the main campus at 275 Swamp Road in Newtown; and the Lower Bucks campus at 1304 Veterans Highway in Bristol.

The commissioners expressed frustration that vaccine supply throughout Pennsylvania has been so limited. Not until increased production brings more doses to Bucks County will the clinics be able to increase capacity.

“By the phone calls and emails we’ve been getting, we all know that everybody is pretty anxious and trying to figure out where those vaccines are,” said Diane M. Ellis-Marseglia, chair of the county commissioners. “We have met with Republican and Democratic state representatives, we’ve talked to our congressman; everybody is working really hard together, but we can’t get vials of vaccine that haven’t been made.”

Commissioner Bob Harvie said Bucks and its surrounding counties “are not getting the amount of vaccine that we need,” noting that Montgomery County had to close its vaccination site on Feb. 10 because it ran out. Bucks officials, he said, are lobbying Harrisburg to alter increase the allotment it has been giving the county.

Bucks County has 4.9 percent of the state’s population, but has received only 3.1 percent of the vaccine doses, Harvie said – 75,700 doses out of 2.4 million distributed statewide, excluding Philadelphia. The county, though its health department, has received only about 14 percent of the county’s allotment, with the rest going to hospitals, medical practices and pharmacies.

The commissioners said Bucks County has administered its doses more efficiently than the state as a whole. Throughout Pennsylvania, 57 percent of the vaccine sent by the federal government to the state has been used, while 80 percent of the vaccine sent by the state to Bucks has been administered.

Through Feb. 11, 35,863 people had been partially vaccinated in Bucks County, along with 13,792 who had been fully vaccinated.

Bucks County’s clinics will be run through a partnership with AMI Expeditionary Healthcare and the county health department.

Over the past several weeks, more than 7,000 doses of Pfizer vaccine have been given to healthcare and frontline workers at a small clinic run by the county at Woods Services in Langhorne.

Last week, AMI and the Bucks County Intermediate Unit used doses allotted to the county to vaccinate 1,888 teachers and school staff who are both eligible for Phase 1A and who have in-person contact with special education students who are unable to follow masking and distancing guidelines.

Damsker said prioritizing these school workers helps to protect vulnerable educators while keeping in-person instruction available to students who most need it.

Remaining vaccine was used to inoculate a small group of county residents ages 85 and older, Kenny said.

This week, “we are going to do our best to give out appointments to people based on when they registered,” Harvie said. He said county officials studied a random sampling of 3,000 1A-eligible people who registered with the county and found an acceptable mix of older residents, younger people with serious health conditions, and those who do not have access to computers.

At full capacity, each of the three community college sites should be able to vaccinate 500 people per day, or 2,500 per week. When that level is reached, the county plans to open three additional clinics at sites to be announced, raising county government’s vaccination capacity to 15,000 per week.

The county also intends to deploy two mobile vaccination strike teams capable of administering up to 150 doses per day at various locations.

“We’re doing everything we possibly can to make sure that we’re ready, when the vaccine starts to come in volume, to get as many people in the 1A phase vaccinated as quickly as possible,” said Commissioner Gene DiGirolamo.

The county clinics are opening during a time when new COVID infections are declining in the county and across Pennsylvania.

The Pennsylvania Department of Health reported 237 new infections in Bucks County on Feb. 10 for a pandemic total of 42,398. 42,161 The rolling, seven-day average of new cases is 215 per day.

Four COVID deaths were reported in Bucks on Feb. 10, raising the pandemic total to 1,075. Ninety-four patients were hospitalized with COVID, 16 of them on ventilators.

Statistics, charts, links to state health department data and other coronavirus-related information can be found on the county’s data portal: https://covid19-bucksgis.hub.arcgis.com.

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