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The Lancaster County Commissioners today took the first step toward enabling a newly formed coalition of community partners to establish a COVID-19 community vaccination center, tentatively planned to open in March.
The Commissioners today approved a Memorandum of Understanding for the project. A final agreement is expected to be considered by the Commissioners next week.
The Vaccinate Lancaster Coalition includes the county government and all four major health systems – Penn Medicine Lancaster General Health, Penn State Health, UPMC and WellSpan Health. Together with Rock Lititz and TriStarr Staffing managing logistical considerations, the partners are planning a community vaccination center in Lancaster and are seeking FEMA funds to help finance the project. The specific location will be announced at a later date.
The center is tentatively planned for a pilot program of fewer than 1,000 vaccinations per day from March 8 through March 14, before shifting to normal operations with a goal of up to 6,000 vaccinations per day through June 30.
Plans for the vaccination center are contingent upon vaccine availability. Vaccine allocations are decided by the Pennsylvania Department of Health.
“Lancaster County is a community that comes together in times of crisis,” said Josh Parsons, Chairman, Lancaster County Commissioners. “We are deeply grateful to Lancaster General Health, WellSpan, Penn State Health, UPMC, Rock Lititz and our other partners, for their leadership and commitment in this incredible effort.”
As of Tuesday, Feb. 9, the county had more than 40,000 positive cases and approximately 900 deaths.
“Lancaster County has been acutely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and will continue to experience high rates of positive cases until the vast majority of our residents are immunized,” said Dr. Michael Ripchinski, chief clinical officer, Penn Medicine Lancaster General Health, which is serving as the managing healthcare partner for the vaccination center initiative. “The development of new vaccines is a key part to ending this pandemic. Getting shots in arms is our No. 1 priority.”
Although all four health systems will continue to offer their vaccinations at their respective care locations, as supply is available, more than 432,000 Lancaster County residents need to be vaccinated – a number that will require a large-scale community vaccination center to help ensure access for all eligible individuals. Approximately 200,000 Lancaster County residents are currently eligible for the vaccine under Phase 1A of the Pa. Department of Health vaccine rollout plan.
“The sooner people get vaccinated, the sooner we can begin to put this pandemic behind us,” said Dr. Peter Dillon, chief clinical officer of Penn State Health. “This community vaccination center will provide another convenient option for those who want to be vaccinated. Our goal is access. Every eligible person who wants a shot should get one.”
“We are encouraged by the public enthusiasm to receive COVID-19 vaccine and look forward to immunizing as many people as possible when vaccine becomes available,” said Dr. John Goldman, vice president of medical affairs and chief of infectious disease, UPMC Pinnacle. “Planning for a Lancaster County Community Vaccination Center reflects our collective desire to fairly and efficiently vaccinate the residents of Lancaster County.”
“This coalition is committed to educating the community about approved COVID-19 vaccines and doing our best to get those vaccines to everyone who is eligible to get it,” said Dr. David Gasperack, vice president and regional medical director for WellSpan Health. “Access for all is our priority.”
For information on the Vaccinate Lancaster initiative and regular updates on the planned community vaccination center, visit www.VaccinateLancaster.org.