Vaccine

BUCKS COUNTY >> Starting on Tuesday, April 13 all Pennsylvanians ages 16 and up are eligible for COVID-19 vaccinations, Gov. Tom Wolf announced.

The governor’s announcement came as the pace of vaccinations quickened in Bucks County and the rest of the state. Almost 39 percent of eligible Pennsylvanians have received at least a first dose of vaccine, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

That ranks Pennsylvania 11th nationally by percentage of population at least partially vaccinated. More than 6.4 million doses have been administered statewide during the 17-week rollout, including more than 311,000 in Bucks County through Saturday.

A total of 117,643 people have been fully vaccinated in the county, along with 89,509 partially vaccinated. These totals are equivalent to 41 percent of the county’s adult population.

Bucks County opened appointments to all 16 and older residents last week after President Biden announced that he would order all adults eligible by April 19. Bucks officials made the move after sending invitations to everyone remaining on the county’s preregistration lists.

To register and make an appointment, please visit the county’s vaccination information portal at BucksCounty.org.

Providers throughout the county administered 36,283 doses of vaccine in Bucks last week, 40 percent of them at vaccine sites funded or operated by the county. The rising numbers were helped by an increased flow of vaccine from the Pennsylvania Department of Health.

County providers received more than 51,000 doses of vaccine from the state last week, 66 percent more than the previous week, Included were more than 23,000 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which requires only one shot for full vaccination.

Bucks County’s ability to administer more doses should grow as its fifth mass vaccination site at Warwick Square moves to a fuller schedule. The site, located in a former grocery store along York Road, administered almost 800 shots during last week’s soft opening, and should exceed 1,000 per day this week.

County strike teams continue to visit elderly and other hard-to-reach populations with vaccine visits. The county is also contracting with Bucks County Transport to provide free rides to vaccination appointments for those without access to transportation.

Such efforts earned praise this week from the state health department, which said that county facilities “are vaccinating on-par or in greater proportions” to Bucks County’s minority populations.

“You are having a positive impact during this public health crisis by equitably serving the community you are in,” the state told the county health department in an email. “Thank you for your tremendous work to distribute vaccines equitably to your community!”

Bucks County’s rate of new infections remained high last week, with 1,854 new cases reported and a seven-day average of 269 per day. After several weeks of sizeable increases, new infections did drop by about 6 percent from the week before. The test positivity rate also notched down slightly, to 10.7 percent from 11 percent the week before.

“Everybody over 16 is now eligible for vaccine. That is a very good thing, and will put a major dent in cases,” said Dr. David Damsker, director of the Bucks County Health Department. “We look forward to vaccinating as many people as we possibly can.”

Nine COVID deaths were reported last week in Bucks, raising the pandemic total to 1,192.

Hospitalizations continued to rise, with 112 COVID patients in Bucks County hospitals.

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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