HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — A new group of Pennsylvanians can now receive the coronavirus vaccine. That group includes smokers, people who are obese, and pregnant women.
According to the Pennsylvania Department of Health, all Pennsylvanians over 65, and those between 16 and 64 years old with serious medical conditions are now eligible to get the vaccine in this current and first distribution phase.
Pregnant women now fall under this category. They join healthcare workers and Pennsylvanians living in long-term care facilities.
“We do know that a woman who’s symptomatic with COVID, who’s pregnant, is at higher risk for having serious illness compared to another woman with same age, same risk factors. Just the state of being pregnant does suppress the immune system,” said Dr. Christina DeAngelis, Interim Division Chief, Women’s Health, Penn State Hershey.
As far as the safety of the vaccine for pregnant women, here’s what she had to say.
“At this point, the American College of OB-GYN, which is the advisory board — as obstetricians, gynecologists we follow their recommendations. They do believe that for the majority of pregnant women, there’s far more benefits in getting immunized as opposed to risks,” said Dr. DeAngelis.
In addition to pregnant women, the obese and smokers are also now ahead of teachers and first responders for getting the vaccine. Assistant Chief Nathan Harig with Cumberland Goodwill EMS has already gotten his first vaccine shot, but is wary about some of the changes.
“Our firefighter and law enforcement partners who might respond to the same calls are now at a disadvantage because we’ve moved the line so far forward. I do have a lot of concerns,” said Harig.
State health department officials say they made the changes in line with recommendations from the federal government and that smoking is associated with more severe COVID cases, and death in hospitalized patients.
There are now more than 3.5 million Pennsylvanians in Phase 1A.