Pa. senior vaccinations taking longer than most states due to high 65+ population

Vaccinate PA

CARLISLE, Pa. (WHTM) — Pennsylvania’s 65-plus population is huge, so it’s taking a while to get everyone vaccinated.

The CEO at Chapel Pointe at Carlisle, Deborah Sprague, says 73% of their residents and staff are vaccinated and all but one person who wanted a vaccine, has gotten it, but she says it’s been a long time getting here.

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“I think there was a gap in communication at the height of the pandemic,” Sprague said.

Sprague says that the communication gap has gotten smaller and is improving as the pandemic has worn on, but it’s still hard to ignore statistics from the CDC.

Pennsylvania is 5th in the U.S. when it comes to the overall number of vaccinations for those 65 and older, but when you look at vaccinations for those 65 and older for every 100,000 people, we’re 44th out of the 50 states. Because Pennsylvania has so many seniors, it just takes longer to get to them all.

“We’ve always known that Pennsylvania is in the top two, three states with the highest number of older residents, and so I’ve wondered whether that was taken into consideration by the federal government and wondered whether the state and the federal government together recognized their need for a higher number of vaccines,” Sprague said.

It’s something the director of the Dauphin County Agency on Aging, Robert Burns, says has improved over the last two weeks, because the vaccine supply has increased.

“We’ve been experiencing a lot of calls from people initially back in February,” Burns said.

Abc27 has received many of those calls from viewers as well. So is the state goal of having all 1A appointments scheduled by the end of the month a heavy lift?

“I do think it’s a possibility, and we’re seeing just for example in Dauphin County with the new mass vaccination site at Harrisburg Area Community College, it’s going to offer a lot more people the opportunity to get the vaccination quickly,” Burns said.

We reached out to the state about any possible plans to speed up vaccinations for older Pennsylvanians but did not hear back in time for air.

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