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DOH Orders Providers to Prepare for COVID-19 Booster Rollout

Nation’s public health leaders to make recommendation on booster doses this week

September 21, 2021

The Pennsylvania Department of Health (DOH) today said the state’s COVID-19 vaccine providers would be ready to deliver booster doses throughout the commonwealth.

During a press event today, Acting Secretary of Health Alison Beam announced an order to ensure vaccine providers are prepared to start COVID-19 booster shots upon receiving guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The nation’s public health leaders are meeting this week to evaluate the need for a booster dose.

Last week, an advisory panel from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration unanimously recommended a booster dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for people 65 and older, as well as those at high risk for severe COVID-19.

The CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) is scheduled to discuss boosters this week and is expected to provide guidance to vaccine providers by Thursday evening.

DOH’s order states vaccine providers shall:

  • Provide online scheduling for vaccination appointments
  • Provide a telephone number, with prompts to a live agent during normal business hours, to assist in scheduling appointments
  • Offer walk-in appointments when possible
  • Work with local Area Agencies on Aging (AAA) and Medical Assistance Managed Care to help schedule eligible adults and people who cannot leave their homes

The state is averaging about 16,000 doses administered every day, Acting Secretary Beam said. Pennsylvania has about 3,200 vaccine providers. Nearly 68 percent of Pennsylvanians 18 and older are fully vaccinated, according to the latest CDC data.

The vast majority of patients requiring hospitalization for COVID-19 are unvaccinated, said Dr. Karen Krok, vice chair of clinical affairs, Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center.

“So while there is absolutely a lot of talk about getting boosters or getting the third dose, it’s very important to remember that it’s never too late to get your first dose of your COVID vaccine,” she said.

HAP applauds Pennsylvania’s hospitals for their outstanding commitment to the COVID-19 vaccination effort. Hospitals continue to play an integral role to address vaccine hesitancy, while preparing to offer booster doses to eligible Pennsylvanians.

HAP will continue to monitor public health COVID-19 developments and provide updates to members.

For more information about the latest DOH order, contact Robert Shipp III, PhD, BSN, RN, NEA-BC, vice president, population health and clinical affairs.