More vaccines headed to Pennsylvania as health secretary again asks people to stay home for the holidays

HARRISBURG, Pennsylvania (WPVI) -- Federal and state health officials are echoing the same concerns with holiday gatherings and anticipate both a surge in positive COVID-19 cases and a surge in the need for testing after Christmas.

Pennsylvania Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine said on Monday the federal rollout for vaccinations of staff and residents in skilled nursing homes will begin this week.

The federal government's Operation Warp Speed is working with retail pharmacies CVS and Walgreens to distribute the vaccines. After skilled nursing homes, long-term residential care facilities are next.

The vaccinations for frontline healthcare workers continues with 58 hospitals slated to begin vaccinations. More than 73,000 doses are headed to those hospitals, a mix of Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.

"As of this morning hospitals have vaccinated 72,762 healthcare workers with either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines," said Levine in regards to how many healthcare workers have been inoculated statewide.

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Levine added that restrictions like the ban on indoor dining, bars and nightclubs would not be lifted prior to New Year's Day.

The Department of Health is considering if the state will lift those restrictions - which also includes gyms, casinos and indoor entertainment - by January 4th.

Holiday travel and parties are still of great concern.

"We will not be changing our mitigation orders but we will be discussing what the plan will be on January 4," Levine said. "It's critically important during the holiday weeks as we approach New Year's for people to continue mitigation and to avoid large and small gatherings."

Levine also said the state is working on re-prioritizing the vaccine based on new guidance from the CDC last week. How much of the vaccine the state receives depends on what the federal government provides.
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