Penn State Health contacts high-risk patients, begins COVID-19 vaccinations

COVID-19 vaccine quantities limited; Health system will directly reach out to eligible patients as vaccine doses are supplied by the government, manufacturers

Dr. Stephen Henderson, with Penn State Health Cocoa Outpatient Center, shares a laugh with 71-year-old Cornelia Brown of Chambersburg after giving her the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. Credit: Penn State Health / Penn StateCreative Commons

HERSHEY, Pa. — Penn State Health today began providing initial COVID-19 vaccinations to members of its patient population, one day after the state expanded eligibility under its phase 1A vaccination plan. The health system is directly reaching out to offer vaccinations to patients who meet the Pennsylvania Department of Health’s (DOH) recently expanded criteria for phase 1A vaccination. This includes patients age 65-plus and those ages 16-64 with high-risk health conditions.

Penn State Health supports Gov. Tom Wolf’s decision to expand COVID-19 vaccination eligibility. However, at present, Penn State Health’s vaccine supply is significantly less than the 100,000 to 200,000 patients it has identified for vaccination under the expanded phase 1A eligibility.

“We look forward to providing patients with this game-changing vaccine as soon as we receive sufficient vaccine doses,” said Dr. Peter Dillon, chief clinical officer of Penn State Health. “As that happens, we will reach out directly to patients based on their age and medical history, inviting them to schedule their vaccination appointments online or by phone.”

Selected patients began receiving vaccinations today at Penn State Health’s Holy Spirit Medical Center in Camp Hill, St. Joseph Medical Center in Bern Township, Berks County; Lime Spring Outpatient Center in East Hempfield Township, Lancaster County; and Cocoa Outpatient Center in Hershey.

Penn State Health continues to follow guidelines and procedures put in place by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the DOH for vaccine distribution. In December, the DOH began providing the health system with doses to vaccinate its health care personnel. Since Jan. 11, Penn State Health has been providing doses to several hundred community health care and emergency medical services providers in the region not affiliated with the health system.

Penn State Health will expand vaccinations to patients who are eligible under the state’s 1A vaccination plan to the extent made possible by additional vaccine provided by the state and federal governments and manufacturers.

While it awaits additional quantities of vaccine for the expanded 1A group, Penn State Health has identified locations in several of its communities to establish mass vaccination sites. The health system will post updates on its vaccine page about these locations, along with who is eligible and how to schedule based on incoming vaccine supply.

“We recognize that the vaccine supply is limited, but given the demand and guidance from the state, we felt it was vital to begin the long process of vaccinating our community with the vaccine we have available,” Dillon said. “We’re asking for patience while we await the delivery of additional doses in the weeks and months ahead.”

Last Updated January 21, 2021