PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Gov. Tom Wolf announced a significant expansion of Pennsylvania’s COVID-19 vaccination effort on Friday. Wolf said he’s confident that the commonwealth will meet President Joe Biden’s directive to make everyone vaccine-eligible by May 1.
Wolf says residents currently eligible for vaccines in phase 1A will have appointments soon and once teachers are vaccinated, a new group will be getting the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. That includes police, firefighters, and food workers.READ MORE: Amber Alert Issued For Missing Philadelphia 2-Year-Old Byron McDonald, Alleged Abductor Wanted In Connection To Recent Homicides
“We have seen impressive improvements in our vaccine infrastructure,” Wolf said.
Wolf announced that all Pennsylvanians in phase 1A will either have been vaccinated or have an appointment in the next two weeks. The acting health secretary issued an order that vaccine providers make best efforts to get that group scheduled by March 28.
“Our vaccine allocations are increasing, which really helps this process,” Wolf said.
Members of the state vaccine task force joined the governor in embracing President Biden’s goal of having everyone covered by May.
“After a year of uncertainty, and though we recognize that much work remains today, we’re able to look forward and perhaps get a glimpse of the end,” state Sen. Ryan Aument of Lancaster County said.READ MORE: Stimulus Check Update: Is A Fourth Relief Payment Coming Your Way?
The task force also announced a certain portion of the J&J vaccine would now be targeted to a larger group of essential workers, including police, firefighters, and frontline employees.
“Our plan also includes getting vaccines to grocery store workers, food processing workers, many of whom are Black and Brown,” state Sen. Art Haywood said. “We can and will achieve equity.”
Haywood, a member of the task force, said southeastern Pennsylvania would be getting its fair share of the vaccine.
“The faucet is opening,” Haywood said.
The governor announced a joint mission with the federal government to set up 27 new community vaccine clinics in health centers around the state.
“We want to get everybody vaccinated as quickly and fairly as possible,” Wolf said.MORE NEWS: Report: Sylvester Stallone Joins Mar-A-Lago
Wolf said Pennsylvania’s vaccination rate is now slightly above the national average of 19%, and the state’s ranking in vaccine distribution that had been in the 40s has improved to 38 but there is still a lot of room for more improvement.