PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — There’s expanded COVID-19 vaccine eligibility in Pennsylvania nearly a week ahead of schedule. Starting Tuesday, most Pennsylvanians 16 and older can get a vaccine appointment.
This vaccine expansion does not apply to Philadelphia or New Jersey. They’re waiting until next Monday to open vaccine eligibility.READ MORE: Officer Fires Gun During Struggle With Suspect Wanted For Stealing Car, Philadelphia Police Say
But Pennsylvania is jumping ahead to get vaccine appointments open to more people.
“The month of April is a critical turning point in this pandemic,” Pennsylvania Acting Health Secretary Alison Beam said.
The acting health secretary said the accelerated vaccine rollout in Pennsylvania was a reflection of supply now out-pacing demand in many locations.
“So far, more than 39% of the state’s population has received at least one dose. Over the past seven days, providers in Pennsylvania have administered an average of 87,000 doses per day,” Beam said.
Opening vaccine appointments to everyone over the age of 16 on Tuesday comes six days before it happens nationally.
Beyond the increase in vaccine supplies, there’s also a race against cases increasing, mainly due to the variants and more people traveling.READ MORE: Federal Fire Safety Policy Inspired By Deadly Fairmount Fire Headed To US House Floor For Vote
“When you have that travel and you have folks really going outside their communities, you’re going to see the transmission of disease also take place,” Beam said.
The state also unveiled a new mobile vaccine unit that will travel to mainly underserved communities, aiming to reverse vaccine hesitancy.
“The unfortunate reality is that the suffering of our most vulnerable and underserved populations has risen to a whole new level due to COVID-19 and it’s time we stop the spread of the disease in its tracks,” said George Fernandez with Latino Connection.
At the Aston Community Center in Delaware County, people getting vaccinated were happy eligibility is being expanded.
“I think more people vaccinated the better we’re gonna be and the faster we can get back to some form of normalcy around here,” Janice Mehan said.
“I hope more people will decide to get the vaccine and the more people that get it, the better,” Andrew Cimino said.
Pennsylvania is one of the last states to open vaccine eligibility. Most have already made adults universally eligible.MORE NEWS: Report: Phillies' Bryce Harper Expected To Need Surgery For Fractured Left Thumb
But if you live in Philadelphia or New Jersey, the vaccine is still only available to certain groups until Monday, April 19.