Harrisburg, PA (STL.News) Governor Tom Wolf toured the Berks County Intermediate Unit’s COVID-19 vaccination area today and thanked the educators and medical professionals for their commitment to Pennsylvania’s students by providing the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine for Pre-K-12 teachers and other school staff.
“Less than two weeks ago, I announced a plan to vaccinate Pre-K-12 educators and because of the great partnership with the intermediate units, national guard and education groups these sites were quickly up and running,” said Gov. Wolf. “Our ultimate goal is to offer every public and private school worker a vaccine to protect people, help even more students return to the classroom, and get communities another step closer to normal.”
As part of the priority to safely and quickly get more students back in the classroom, on March 3, Gov. Wolf and the COVID-19 Vaccine Task Force announced a special initiative to use the Johnson & Johnson vaccine for Pre-K-12 educators. The Wolf Administration is collaborating with 28 Intermediate Units (IUs) to equitably vaccinate school and contracted staff, including bus drivers and transportation personnel
“Thank you to the parents and families who have done so much to support students and schools over the past year,” said Gov. Wolf. “Thank you to the teachers who have moved mountains to provide innovative learning opportunities for students and thank you to all of those who have contributed to getting vaccine clinics like this one up and running. After a very hard year, vaccination clinics like this one give us all hope, and remind us that as vaccine supply increases, we will get through this pandemic.”
To date, the IUs have provided 52,778 doses of the vaccine. Philadelphia is a separate vaccine jurisdiction.
“Thank you to Governor Wolf and the COVID-19 Vaccine Task Force for providing a plan for Pennsylvania’s school employees and contractors to receive the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine,” said Dr. Jill Hackman, Berk County IU Executive Director. “Intermediate units across Pennsylvania feel fortunate to have been afforded this opportunity to play a central role in the coordination. These efforts pave the way to getting more students back in the classroom and keeping communities healthy.”
AMI Expeditionary Healthcare, LLC, a health organization contracted by the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency, is operating and administering doses at IU sites. The Pennsylvania National Guard provides additional support at some locations.
“We are proud to be working with the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania on its very ambitious and important goal of vaccinating all teachers, childcare and school workers in the state. This will have enormous impact on communities across Pennsylvania,” said Mike Smith, Executive Vice President, COVID-19 Testing and Vaccination for AMI Expeditionary Healthcare. “We are relying on a proven track record of being on the ground across the country and globe. This endeavor shows how when we work together we can tackle this pandemic.”
Pennsylvania received its first shipment of Johnson & Johnson vaccine – 94,600 doses — last week. The Food and Drug Administration and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently authorized the vaccine for emergency use.
“Many thanks to the Berks IU team for their efforts in coordinating this vaccine rollout,” said Sen. Judy Schwank “It is a major step in ensuring that all our students and teachers can safely return to their classrooms very soon.”
“Getting our children back to school full time is a top priority of mine and vaccinating teachers is a step forward in the right direction,” said Rep. Mike Rozzi. “Students need structure and they need to be active participants in the learning process and only our schools and teachers can provide this through in-person learning.”
The administration is working through the Retail Pharmacy Program to vaccinate all early childhood education workers, including those not associated with an IU. The local Retail Pharmacy Program partners — Rite Aid, Topco and Walmart — are contacting the workers to schedule vaccinations using the additional, separate allocations of Johnson & Johnson vaccine from the federal government.