Earlier this month, Gov. Tom Wolf and the COVID-19 Vaccine Task Force announced the voluntary single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine would be administered to PreK-12 educators and school staff. He said the special initiative is ahead of schedule.
“Thank you to everyone who has contributed to our efforts to get school staff vaccinated and for making it happen so quickly,” Wolf said. “Most importantly, vaccinating teachers will help students to get back in the classroom faster, ease the burden on parents and benefit entire communities.”
By the end of the weekend, all 94,600 doses in the initial J&J vaccine allocation were slated to be administered, nearly two weeks before the original goal of the end of the month. Additionally, the commonwealth secured 13,000 more doses last week for a total of 107,600 doses. The administration is requesting another 13,000 doses this week. The vast majority of educators and support staff who wish to receive a vaccination will be vaccinated by the end of the month.
The Wolf Administration is collaborating with 28 Intermediate Units to operate the clinics with the Pennsylvania National Guard and AMI Expeditionary Healthcare administering the vaccine. Many IU clinics have already completed vaccinations of teachers and staff working with elementary school and vulnerable students and have expanded to vaccinating those working with middle grade and high school students, with some IUs having nearly completed all PreK-12 vaccinations.
The governor recently toured the Bucks County Intermediate Unit’s COVID-19 vaccination area.
“The Bucks IU is grateful to the governor and other partners in the commonwealth for setting aside more than 7,000 vaccines for Bucks County school employees and contractors,” said Dr. Mark Hoffman, Bucks IU executive director. “As a result of the commonwealth’s efforts, our Bucks County students, their families and school staff are safely assured that in-person instruction can continue in our schools. The Bucks IU is honored to be a part of this historic effort to vaccinate all school employees and contractors.”
A week after the governor announced the special initiative, vaccine clinics started opening, including two on March 10, eight more on March 11, 10 more on March 12 and the final eight on March 13.
“PSEA members have gone above and beyond to teach and serve our students,” said PSEA president Rich Askey. “But we want to be with our students – in school and in person. The vaccination program that Gov. Wolf and the COVID-19 Vaccine Task Force created will help to get our schools open and our students learning.”
The vaccination of educators is separate from the ongoing Phase 1A vaccine rollout. The governor announced an analysis of CDC data on the number of vaccines administered per 100,000 of population over the past week (through March 17) puts Pennsylvania second in the nation behind New Mexico.
The administration is working through the retail pharmacy partnership to ensure all early childhood education workers, including those not associated with an IU, have access to the vaccine, including childcare workers providing an essential service to working families across the commonwealth.