Washington Health System began its second round of vaccinations to WHS employees and other local health-care providers this week.
WHS is continuing to vaccinate people in Phase 1A, in accordance with the state COVID vaccine plan. The health system hasn’t pinpointed a date to begin administering vaccines to qualified people in Phase 1B.
The distribution timetable is based on the vaccine supply WHS receives from the state Department of Health, said WHS spokesperson Stephanie Wagoner.
When the health system is ready to begin vaccinating residents in Phase 1B, the information will be provided on its website at whs.org/covid and through its e-blast. To sign up for e-mail notifications, visit whs.org/covid, fill in the required fields, and click subscribe.
Meanwhile, rollout of the vaccine continues to be a slow process throughout Pennsylvania. Earlier this week, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced people 65 and older, along with anyone with a high-risk medical condition, should soon be vaccinated, a revision to the more regimented phased-in approach.
WHS and Mon Valley Hospital are moving forward with plans to collaborate with Centerville Clinics, Cornerstone Care, Washington and Greene County commissioners, and other officials to create a consolidated vaccination plan for the two counties in order to speed up the distribution of vaccines.
WHS President and CEO Brook Ward said last week the goal is “to get our entire community vaccinated as quickly as possible so we can get back to a normal life.”
Andrew Bilinsky, spokesperson for Mon Valley Hospital, said the facilities are working as a group to collect contact information from people in Phase 1A who need to be vaccinated.
“Once we know when we are going to receive doses of the vaccine, we will contact those on the list who selected our hospital for their vaccination site,” said Bilinsky.
The Department of Health and Human Resources is hoping that speeding up the vaccination process will result in enough people being inoculated against COVID-19 so that the country can reach herd immunity by the end of summer.
Greene County commissioners said they are playing a supporting role in the COVID-19 vaccine program.
“We have offered whatever help we can provide to the hospital administrators charged with organizing the vaccine program. Our facilities and any other county asset we can offer to facilitate a more efficient and effective vaccination program is available,” said Mike Belding, chairman of the Greene County Board of Commissioners.
A vaccine provider map from the DOH can be found at www.health.pa.gov/topics/disease/coronavirus/Pages/Vaccine.aspx. The map ensures that all enrolled vaccine providers have their information available to the public for those currently eligible to be vaccinated.
Eligible providers who have vaccines available are marked on the map with a green pin, while those providers who are eligible but do not have the vaccine available show up with a red pin.
In the meantime, WHS, along with the DOH and the CDC, recommend people continue to social distance, wear a mask, and wash hands often to help slow the spread of COVID-19.