What officials are saying about COVID-19 vaccination progress in Pennsylvania

HARRISBURG, Pennsylvania (WPVI) -- Carol Gehlhaus is getting her first dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. It's a moment for which the 94-year-old has been waiting.

"Before I kept thinking, am I going to get it? What are the symptoms?" recalled Gehlhaus.

The first of two inoculations gets her one step closer to hugging her sons and holding her new great-granddaughter. Those moments have been on hold.

"It will be very emotional to be able to hold hands, hug; we haven't been able to do anything," she said.

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Pennsylvania health officials say 39,000 doses have been rolled out to state nursing homes to inoculate those like Carol and the staff who treat them like Catherxine O'Gorman, who is the director of nursing at Meadowood Senior Living.

"We are always dreaming of getting back to normal whatever normal means. I think things will feel different and feel lighter and people will just be happier," said O'Gorman.

Most nursing homes are getting their doses through the Federal Pharmacy Partnership with the help of CVS and Walgreens. Thousands of other doses have been administered through hospitals and health departments.

Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine announced the overall vaccination progress Monday afternoon.

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"Our latest report today in Pensylvania is that 135,044 Pennsylvanians have been vaccinated, in addition, CVS and Walgreens have completed vaccinations at 115 skilled nursing facilities," said Levine.

Levine says it'll be several months before the wider population can expect to get the vaccine. She foresees an appointment style system to avoid long lines when the expanded rollout launches.

"There are many variables that will determine how fast the vaccination program goes. The biggest one is how much vaccine we get both from those manufacturers and then potentially the AstraZeneca vaccine, as well as Johnson & Johnson," said Levine.

She says the state expects nearly 250,000 additional doses of the Moderna and Pfizer vaccine this week.
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