County: Everyone over age 16 eligible for COVID vaccine

By Mike McGann, Editor, The Times @mikemcgannpa

If you’ve been waiting patiently for the COVID-19 vaccine, Chester County has news for you: it is now your turn if you are over age 16. The county Health Department announced Friday that appointments will not be available for all adults, more than a week earlier than federal guidelines required.

The expansion comes in part because the county vaccination program — which got off to a slower start than officials hoped, due to shortages of vaccine — has become increasingly successful. Nearly half of the county’s adults now have had at least one shot.

“Our decision to open eligibility to everyone in Chester County age 16 and over was made based on two factors,” said Jeanne Franklin, Director of the Chester County Health Department in a statement released Friday.  “First, the number of people in the county who have already received the vaccine, combined with the number of people currently scheduled with us to receive the vaccine over the coming weeks.

“And second, the fact that we have three large-scale clinics that are administering the Johnson & Johnson vaccine this weekend, with a number of appointments still available.”

According to the county, more than 192,000 county residents have had at least one shot, with another 47,000 scheduled for appointments in the coming weeks. That means a large number of county residents have some level of protection from the virus — or are about to get it. The Moderna and Pfizer two-shot regiment requires two weeks after the second shot to become fully effective, although even just one shot provides some level of protection. The single-shot Johnson & Johnson shot has a similar two-week period following the shot to get to full effectiveness.

Casner said that the likely pool of those wanting the vaccine is beginning to dwindle, in part because of the high volume of vaccinations, in part because a segment of the population doesn’t want to be vaccinated.

“If you factor in vaccine appointments being scheduled with other providers, plus the assumption that around 70% of the eligible population will actually choose to receive the vaccine, then the number remaining to receive the vaccine is really closer to 50,000 people in Chester County,” noted Franklin.

This decision comes as it appears a recent county spike in COVID cases has crested and is beginning to go down again — Chester County saw some 110 less new cases this past week with the positivity rate dropping from 91% to 8.0%. Still, both the new case number — 872 — remains high and new cases around the state continue to climb slowly.

But much as in Chester County, Pennsylvania is making progress in getting residents vaccinated. The state Department of Health announced Friday that more than 6 million shots have been administered to date, with first doses now administered to 35.6% of the population (4 million people), with 2.2 million people fully vaccinated.

Despite the progress, those who have been vaccinated remain a minority of the eligible population — estimates suggest somewhere between 75% and 80% of the population will need to be vaccinated to shut down the virus spread nationally.

As the county moves into the final phase of the vaccine program — now administering about 12,000 shots per week  — the county Health Department is asking three things from county residents:


  1. If you haven’t yet registered your interest in receiving the vaccine with the Chester County Health Department, please register now at org/covidvaccine, and then schedule an appointment.
  2. If you are already registered with the health department, you can login to your account and book an appointment.
  3. If you registered with the Chester County Health Department, and have received your COVID-19 vaccine elsewhere, please remove your name off the registration list to help the health department keep an accurate record of exactly how many people are still waiting to be vaccinated.

For those less computer literate or unable to use a computer,  the county still offers an option to book an appointment via the health department’s call center at 610-344-6225.


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