How Will It Work? Allegheny County to Launch Vaccine Registration System
County officials want to make it easier for residents to get the shots and reduce the number of canceled appointments at vaccination sites.
Because there are multiple ways to sign up, making an appointment for the COVID-19 vaccine in Pennsylvania is often a complicated, frustrating and inconsistent experience. Allegheny County is hoping to improve that with a new registration system that will launch next week.
County Executive Rich Fitzgerald said Wednesday that the new system will allow residents to pre-register, receive notifications when they become eligible and prevent those who are ineligible from making appointments. The system will allow one-time-use links for specific clinics targeted at particular populations, which should reduce the number of canceled appointments at vaccination sites. Fitzgerald says it will be modeled after similar registration systems in Fayette and other counties.
“A lot of partners are really helping out doing this,” Fitzgerald says.
Specific details on how residents can register will be announced next week.
Vaccine Eligibility Expanded
Health Department Director Dr. Debra Bogen announced that individuals aged 16 (Pfizer) or 18 (Moderna) to 64 who meet the Pennsylvania Phase 1A medical conditions are now eligible for the vaccine. Conditions that qualify individuals include those who have cancer, chronic kidney disease, COPD, Down syndrome, heart conditions but not high blood pressure, immunocompromised, obesity, pregnancy, sickle cell disease, smoking and type 2 diabetes.
COVID Cases Rising Again
It appears that pleas by the county health department for people to continue wearing masks, keep 6 feet apart and avoid larger gatherings have fallen on deaf ears. The number of COVID cases and test positivity rate in Allegheny County are once again on the rise. There were 498 cases reported Wednesday and only about 13 of them were more than a week old. The median age of cases is now in the low 30s, as cases among those ages 5 to 18 increase while those among residents 65 or older decline.
Bogen blames it partly on the more contagious variant of the virus and the reluctance of young people to take precautions.
“From our case investigations, we hear that people are gathering with friends in larger groups than even a few weeks ago,” Bogen says. “And many of the gatherings are without masks. There are large groups at many different establishments and less physical distancing than is recommended.”
While the number of people receiving the vaccine continues to rise, Fitzgerald warns that COVID-19 remains a serious health threat.
“It’s not just the hospitalizations and fatalities, which obviously are the most dire thing,” Fitzgerald says. “But people are getting this illness, and it’s lasting for a long time with certain people. While they may not be hospitalized, it’s certainly affecting their life, their quality of life, their ability to do things.
“So, be careful, wear your mask, stay distant.”