Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Pennsylvania Will Use Johnson & Johnson COVID Vaccine for Teachers and School Staff, Schuylkill IU 29 to be Distribution Site

On Wednesday, Governor Wolf along with the COVID-19 Vaccine Task Force announced that Pennsylvania will use the Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) single-dose COVID-19 vaccine for PreK-12 teachers and other school staff.
Earlier this week, Johnson & Johnson began shipping their version of the COVID-19 vaccine across the United States for distribution.

As with the previous vaccines, it was up to Pennsylvania Health officials to determine how to distribute the over 94,000 doses that the state received.

On Tuesday, Governor Wolf responded to a question during a press conference and said that the state was working towards using the newly available vaccine for teachers with a more formal announcement coming Wednesday.

During the announcement on Wednesday, Governor Wolf was joined by task force members Sen. Art Haywood, from the Senate Democratic Caucus, Rep. Bridget Kosierowski from the House Democratic Caucus, Sen. Ryan Aument from the Senate Republican Caucus, and Rep. Tim O’Neal from the House Republican Caucus.

“This new single-dose vaccine adds another layer of support to get students and teachers back in the classroom,” Gov. Wolf said. “Teachers and staff who work with our children will be vaccinated, and I commend the task force and all of our partners for their tremendous commitment to their schools and communities.”

To quickly get the vaccine into educators’ arms, the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency and the departments of Education and Health are partnering with the 28 Intermediate Units (IUs) to establish vaccine sites which are expected to open between March 10th and March 13th.

The Pennsylvania National Guard and AMI Expeditionary Healthcare (AMI) will administer the vaccine at the Intermediate Units.

Schuylkill Intermediate Unit 29 near Minersville will be used as the site for vaccine distribution in Schuylkill County.

The vaccine will still be voluntary.

Information on how to get the vaccine at the distribution site will be sent to eligible staff .

“With more vaccine, we can do more,” said Sen. Haywood. “This task force is making important adjustments to our vaccine rollout to protect second doses, to increase speed of vaccinations, and now to reach Pre-K and K-12 educators, all in two weeks. I thank Governor Wolf for his leadership.”

“We need to be able to get our kids back to school and continue to prioritize our senior citizens with the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines,” said Sen. Aument. “This plan allows us to accomplish both goals simultaneously to move our students, families, communities, and our economy forward and beyond the pandemic.”

“Today’s announcement, that is recommended by our Joint Taskforce, is a special initiative that is a step in the right direction,” said Rep. Kosierowski. “By allocating the Johnson and Johnson vaccine to our educators, contracted staff, and childcare workers we are providing a way to prioritize the health and safety of both our teachers and our students while paving a path to get our children safely back into the classrooms.”

“Many children across the commonwealth have struggled with virtual learning during the past year,” said Rep. O’Neal. “The Johnson & Johnson vaccine provides us with a unique opportunity to offer the vaccine to teachers. This will speed up children returning to the classroom full time, while not taking doses away from our senior citizens and those with health issues in Phase 1A. In addition, we are able to utilize our National Guard members to facilitate the vaccine clinics at intermediate units as envisioned in my law that is expected to be signed by the governor later today.”