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Vaccines Roll Out at Local Nursing Homes, but Few Are Available for the General Population

“It’s going well. Every resident that qualified got it,” said Transitions Healthcare Gettysburg Nursing Home Administrator Vickie Kilmer, speaking of the first round of COVID-19 vaccines recently received by residents at the facility located just west of Gettysburg.

Kilmer said over 270 doses had been administered at an onsite clinic held by Walgreens pharmacy. “We had a really good turnout. All of our residents and about 80 percent of our staff were able to get vaccinated. There were very few side effects – mostly sore arms and being a little extra tired.”

Editor’s Note: Vaccinating nursing home populations has been a important state initiative, as these residents are among the most susceptible to severe COVID-19 infections. Unlike the vaccinations administered to citizens outside of nursing homes which are coordinated by the state, the vaccines supplied to local nursing homes are coordinated by the federal government through pharmacies including Walgreens and CVS.

U.S. Food and Drug Administration

Communications and Gift Officer Mindy Langer at Cross Keys Village/The Brethen Home Community in New Oxford said her residents had been vaccinated by pharmacists from CVS.

Langer said 93 percent of the skilled nursing residents at the Brethren Home had received both doses of the Pfizer vaccine and that 95 percent of the personal care residents had received their first dose.

Langer said 46 percent of the staff at the Brethren Home had received their first dose. “We stress to the team how important it is for everyone to get vaccinated.  We’re proud of the team members who have elected the vaccine.”

Langer noted there was much more that needs to be done in rolling out the vaccines. “Pennsylvania has been slow in getting vaccinations out to the public. We continue to advocate for a vaccine clinic on our campus. We share the nationwide frustration of having more demand than supply,” said Langer.

Few Doses Are Available For the General Population

Meanwhile, vaccine availability for the eligible general population – now including people 65 years and over as well as people with pre-existing conditions – has dried up.

Bryan Gobin, pharmacist at Care Options Rx in Mt. Holly Springs, said their pharmacies had received only 600 doses last week.  “It’s very disappointing,” he said.

Gobin said his pharmacies “could be vaccinating 4,000 to 5,000 people per week but we do not have enough vaccine.  We have the processes in place to make this work for the community.” 

Wellspan reported similar issues with lack of supply:  “There’s nothing new to report,” said spokesperson Ryan Coyle. “Due to supply constraints we are still temporarily pausing any additional online scheduling as we are booked through the end of the month.”

Community members seeking additional information about the COVID-19 vaccine and how they can get it when eligible should visit WellSpan’s dedicated Coronavirus Information web page: https://www.wellspan.org/covid19/covid-19-vaccine/

In the meantime, WellSpan encourages everyone to continue to follow safety precautions: wear a mask, wash your hands, and stay six feet apart from others.

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Charles Stangor is Gettysburg Connection's Publisher and Editor in Chief.

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