As the COVID-19 vaccine continues to roll out across the state, Pennsylvanians continue to have questions such as “When can I get Vaccinated?” and “Where should I sign-up?”
WTAJ has collected various information and data and compiled it here.
Content Source: Pennsylvania Department of Health
What To Know: COVID-19 Vaccine In Pennsylvania
Currently, we’re in Phase 2 of Pennsylvania’s vaccine rollout. All individuals not previously covered who are 16 and older and do not have a contraindication to the vaccine.
Phase 1A is the first vaccine distribution step. The vaccine was distributed to:
- • Long-term care facility residents
- • Health care personnel including, but not limited to: emergency medical service personnel, nurses, nursing assistants, physicians, dentists, dental hygienists, chiropractors, therapists, phlebotomists, pharmacists, technicians, pharmacy technicians, health professions students and trainees, direct support professionals, clinical personnel in school settings or correctional facilities, and contractual HCP not directly employed by the health care facility
- • Persons not directly involved in patient care but potentially exposed to infectious material that can transmit disease among or from health care personnel and patients
- • Persons ages 65 and older
- • Persons ages 16-64 with high-risk conditions: cancer, chronic kidney disease, COPD, Down Syndrome, heart conditions (such as heart failure, coronary artery disease, or cardiomyopathies), immunocompromised state (weakened immune system) from solid organ transplant or from blood or bone marrow transplant, immune deficiencies, HIV, use of corticosteroids, or use of other immune weakening medicines, obesity (body mass index [BMI] of 30 kg/m2 or higher but < 40 kg/m2), severe obesity (BMI ≥ 40 kg/m2), pregnancy, sickle cell disease, smoking, type 2 diabetes mellitus
- • People in congregate settings not otherwise specified as long-term care facilities, and persons receiving home and community-based services
- • First responders
- • Correctional officers and other workers serving people in congregate care settings not included in Phase 1A
- • Food and agricultural workers
- • U.S. Postal Service workers
- • Manufacturing workers
- • Grocery store workers
- • Education workers
- • Clergy and other essential support for houses of worship
- • Public transit workers
- • Individuals caring for children or adults in early childhood and adult day programs
- • Essential workers in these sectors:
- • Transportation and logistics
- • Water and wastewater
- • Food service
- • Housing construction
- • Finance, including bank tellers
- • Information technology
- • Communications
- • Energy, including nuclear reactors
- • Legal services
- • Federal, state, county and local government workers, including county election workers, elected officials and members of the judiciary and their staff
- • Media
- • Public safety
- • Public health workers
Use the tabs below to learn when you’ll be eligible, learn about vaccine safety and more.
Pennsylvania has started to vaccinate against COVID-19 and is working to expand eligibility to more groups of people.
Supplies are limited, so we must prioritize who gets vaccinated first — starting with those most at risk of catching COVID and experiencing complications.
Qualifying for a vaccine does not guarantee available doses or appointments. Visit the Pennsylvania Department of Health’s Your Turn Vaccine Eligibility Checker to see if your eligible.
Once you’ve verified your eligibility, visit the Where To Get Vaccinated section of this page to find a provider in your county.
Vaccine providers can include hospitals, urgent care centers, doctor’s offices, and pharmacies. Providers have to be registered to receive the vaccine.
When you get the vaccine, you and the person administering the vaccine will both need to wear masks that cover your nose and mouth.
You will receive a vaccination card that tells you which COVID-19 vaccine you received, the date you received it, and where you received it. The card also will remind you to return for a second dose if you received the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine.
If you have questions about the vaccination process in Pennsylvania, please call the Pennsylvania Department of Health hotline at 1-877-724-3258.
Authorized COVID-19 Vaccines
Currently, three vaccines are authorized and recommended to prevent COVID-19:
- • Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine
- • Recommended for people aged 16 years and older.
- • 2 shots given 21 days apart.
- • Based on evidence from clinical trials, the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine was 95% effective at preventing laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 illness in people without evidence of previous infection.
- • Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine
- • Recommended for people aged 18 years and older.
- • 2 shots given 28 days apart.
- • Based on evidence from clinical trials, the Moderna vaccine was 94.1% effective at preventing laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 illness in people who received two doses who had no evidence of being previously infected.
- • Janssen’s Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine
- • Recommended for people aged 18 years and older.
- • 1 shot
- • Based on evidence from clinical trials, the Janssen’s Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine vaccine was 66.3% effective at preventing laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 illness ≥14 days after vaccination and 65.5% (95% CI = 57.2%–72.4%) ≥28 days after vaccination.
Vaccines in Phase 3 Clinical Trials
Phase 3 clinical trials are in progress or being planned for three additional COVID-19 vaccines in the United States:
- • AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine
- • Novavax’s COVID-19 vaccine
Side effects usually start within a day or two of getting the vaccine. They should go away in a few days. The most common side effects include:
At injection site:
- • Pain
- • Swelling
- • Redness
- • Chills
- • Tiredness
- • Headache
- • Difficulty breathing
- • Swelling of your face and throat
- • A fast heartbeat
- • A bad rash all over your body
- • Dizziness and weakness
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has granted Emergency Use Authorizations (EUA) for two COVID-19 vaccines which have been shown to be safe and effective.
Emergency Use Authorizations
Vaccine Safety Monitoring
After a vaccine is authorized for use, many vaccine safety monitoring systems watch for possible side effects. This monitoring can pick up on adverse events that may not have been seen in clinical trials. If an unexpected adverse event is seen, experts study it further to assess whether it is a true safety concern. Experts then decide whether changes are needed in U.S. vaccine recommendations. This monitoring is critical to help ensure that the benefits continue to outweigh the risks for people who receive vaccines.
CDC has a new smartphone-based, after-vaccination health checker for people who receive COVID-19 vaccines called V-safe. V-safe uses text messaging and web surveys from CDC to check in with vaccine recipients following COVID-19 vaccination. V-safe also provides second vaccine dose reminders if needed, and telephone follow up to anyone who reports medically significant adverse events.
Learn more about COVID-19 vaccine safety from the CDC.
While you’re waiting to receive your COVID-19 vaccine, and even after you receive your vaccine, it’s important to continue to wear a mask that covers your mouth and nose, stay at least 6 feet away from others, avoid crowds and wash your hands often.
Before You Get Vaccinated
- • Talk with your health care provider to see if vaccination is right for you.
- • Check if COVID-19 vaccination is recommended for you right now and make an appointment to get vaccinated.
- • Stay home as much as possible to avoid exposure to COVID-19.
- • Wear a mask, social distance, avoid gatherings and crowds, and wash your hands often.
- • Learn more about the different types of COVID-19 vaccines.
- • Learn more about the benefits of getting COVID-19 vaccination.
At Your Vaccination Appointment
- • When you get the vaccine, you and the person administering the vaccine will both need to wear masks that cover your nose and mouth.
- • You will receive a vaccination card that tells you which COVID-19 vaccine you received, the date you received it and where you received it. You should also receive a card to remind you to return for a second dose.
- • You’ll receive a fact sheet that contains information to help you understand the risks and benefits of receiving the COVID-19 vaccine you are being offered.
- • You’ll be monitored on site after you receive your vaccination to watch for any reaction to the vaccine.
After You Receive a Vaccination
- • With most COVID-19 vaccines, you’ll need two shots in order for them to work. Get the second shot even if you have side effects after the first one, unless a vaccination provider or your doctor tells you not to get a second shot.
- • Register for v-safe, a free, smartphone-based tool that uses text messaging and web surveys to provide personalized health check-ins after you receive a COVID-19 vaccination. V-safe also reminds you to get your second dose if you need one. Learn more about v-safe.
- • Learn about common side effects and get helpful tips on how to reduce your pain and discomfort after vaccination.
- • Remember to get your second shot!
Pennsylvania’s COVID-19 Vaccination Plan follows the blueprint set forth by the CDC. This is a plan which is being continuously updated to reflect the latest guidance from the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) and other guidance available and feedback received.
Getting Pennsylvanians immunized with a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine is an essential step in reducing the number of Sars-CoV-2 virus-related cases, hospitalizations and deaths. The Department’s goals are to prioritize persons who receive the vaccine to maximize benefits and minimize harms caused by the virus, promote justice, mitigate health inequities, and promote transparency.
Currently, we’re in Phase 2. Vaccines have started to be administered to all individuals not previously covered who are 16 and older and do not have a contraindication to the vaccine.
Stopping a pandemic requires using all the tools available. Vaccines work with your immune system so your body will be ready to fight the virus if you are exposed. Other steps, like wearing masks and social distancing, help reduce your chance of being exposed to the virus or spreading it to others. Together, COVID-19 vaccination and following the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC’s) recommendations to protect yourself and othersOpens In A New Window will offer the best protection from COVID-19.
Phase 2: All individuals not previously covered who are 16 and older and do not have a contraindication to the vaccine (note that at this time, only the Pfizer-BioNTech product is approved for those age 16 and 17)
Limited supply means there is not enough vaccine for the entire population of Pennsylvania.
This means that not everyone will be able to be vaccinated right away. It is understandable how concerning this would be for people, especially for those who are at increased risk for serious illness from this virus and for their loved ones.
Getting COVID-19 may offer some natural protection, known as immunity. But experts don’t know how long this protection lasts, and the risk of severe illness and death from COVID-19 far outweighs any benefits of natural immunity. COVID-19 vaccination will help protect you by creating an antibody response without having to experience sickness.
Both natural immunity and immunity produced by a vaccine are important aspects of COVID-19 that experts are trying to learn more about, and CDC will keep the public informed as new evidence becomes available.
No. Acting Secretary Alison Beam and Governor Tom Wolf are confident in the CDC, U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) and CDC Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) review processes and that they will be safe and effective.
Yes, you can get the vaccine outside of your home state.
We have no plans to make the vaccine mandatory.
The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, which has received an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) from the FDA, is a two-dose vaccine.
The Moderna COVID-19 vaccine has also received an EUA from the FDA and is a two-dose vaccine.
There are four U.S. COVID-19 vaccines in production right now from the following drug manufacturers:
- • AstraZeneca;
- • Inovio;
- • Novavax; and
- • Johnson & Johnson.
Three of the four additional vaccines in production through Operation Warp Speed (OWS) are also two-dose vaccines.
The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is a single-dose vaccine.
Currently, clinical trials are evaluating investigational COVID-19 vaccines in many thousands of study participants to generate scientific data and other information for the FDA to determine their safety and effectiveness. These clinical trials are being conducted according to the rigorous standards set forth by FDA in their June 2020 guidance document, Development and Licensure of Vaccines to Prevent COVID-19. If FDA determines that a vaccine meets its safety and effectiveness standards, it can make these vaccines available for use in the United States by approval or emergency use authorization.
The COVID-19 vaccine is another tool in our toolkit in the fight against COVID-19. People who are vaccinated still need to wear masks, wash hands, use hand sanitizer, social distance and avoid small and large gatherings. Individuals will be much more protected and can have that comfort that they will have a lesser chance to catch COVID-19 and/or a less severe case if they do get COVID-19. We anticipate it will take significant time to get through the vaccination phases and have community spread go down significantly. Until that time, we need everyone to continue all of the safety measures that are in effect now.
The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is not yet approved for children under the age of 16. The Moderna COVID-19 vaccine is not yet approved for children under the age of 18. More research is needed to make sure any COVID-19 vaccine will be safe and effective for infants, kids and teens.
The department does not have a time-table of how long it will take to distribute COVID-19 vaccines across the commonwealth since there is only a limited supply of vaccine available at this time.
The department will use the CDC’s VaccineFinder portal to show where people can be vaccinated once the vaccine is available to a larger audience.
The department’s goal is to ensure every Pennsylvanian who wants a vaccine can be vaccinated. At the advisement of the CDC, Pennsylvania is prioritizing the order in which individuals are vaccinated to ensure those that are in most critical need are vaccinated first in accordance with recommendations of the CDC Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices.
We do not know many additional Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine and Moderna COVID-19 vaccine allocations we will receive beyond what we are currently allocated.
The Federal government stood up a Federal Pharmacy Partnership program. Through this partnership, skilled nursing facilities and long-term care facilities and congregant care settings and their staff will be vaccinated.
The department wants to make sure that anyone who wants to get a COVID-19 vaccine can do so, but this is still developing at this time and will vary depending on the healthcare provider locations administering the COVID-19 vaccine.
Many providers are being enrolled and will be able to administer COVID-19 vaccinations. Many pharmacies, health centers, doctor’s offices, urgent care centers, and mass vaccination clinics will be vaccine providers. The general public can be vaccinated in Phase 2.
The Pennsylvania Department of Health continues to align with the CDC’s list of medical conditions that place someone at an increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19. At this time, those with medical conditions who CDC indicates might be at an increased risk are not defined into a particular phase of Pennsylvania’s Interim COVID-19 Vaccination Plan. We will continue to review the information from the CDC as we move forward.
People who are vaccinated against COVID-19 do NOT need to quarantine after an exposure to another person with COVID-19 if they meet ALL of the following criteria:
- • They are fully vaccinated (i.e., ≥2 weeks following receipt of the second dose in a 2-dose series, or ≥2 weeks following receipt of one dose of a single-dose vaccine);
- • They are within 3 months following receipt of the last dose in the series; AND,
- • They have remained asymptomatic since the current COVID-19 exposure.
This does NOT apply to inpatients or residents in healthcare settings.
Regardless of vaccination status, people who exhibit new or unexplained symptoms of COVID-19 still need to isolate and get tested for COVID-19.
Close contacts who have not received vaccine or who do not meet all of the above criteria must follow existing quarantine guidance.
DOH continues to recommend COVID-19 prevention measures such as masking, physical distancing, avoiding nonessential travel, and hand hygiene for all people regardless of vaccination status.
Where To Get Vaccinated
This map will be updated as more locations receive vaccines. Click on a marker to see details on vaccination locations. All locations listed on the map are enrolled providers. It is important to note that the supply of vaccines compared to the demand is very limited, and many locations may not have vaccines available.