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Mass vaccine clinic in the works

Planning begins for county event to inoculate up to 2,000 people per day

Planning is starting for a mass COVID-19 vaccination clinic, possibly at the Blair County Convention Center.

Agencies in Blair County are meeting today to plan for a mass vaccination clinic, although it’s still uncertain when that clinic would occur, according to Blair County Emergency Management Director Mark Taylor.

“I would expect it to be coming soon,” Taylor said.

The state will notify the county when it learns from the federal government that there will be enough vaccines coming to sustain such a clinic.

That advance notice could be as short as two weeks, he said.

The clinic would require at least 10,000 doses to be dispensed over a week, Taylor said.

Conceivably, the clinic could last as long as three weeks, 12 hours a day, 2,000 doses a day, he said.

The doses would come through the local hospitals, over and above what the hospitals are getting to run their own vaccination programs, Taylor said.

The hospitals will be the “enrolled providers” for the clinic, Taylor said.

They would also take care of vaccination reporting, he said.

Representatives from the hospitals, the county, ambulance agencies, police departments and the Convention Center — about 20 agencies and organizations in all — will participate in today’s planning meeting.

Lancaster County opened a mass vaccination clinic Wednesday, using vaccine doses pooled by nearby hospitals, according to a virtual Department of Health news conference.

By the end of the week, the state will have received 4.1 million doses of vaccine, said department spokesman Barry Ciccocioppo.

That’s about equal to the number of people in the top priority group, 1a, but only half the needed doses to take care of them, because everyone needs two shots of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines being used for now, Ciccocioppo said.

Supply continues to lag behind demand. The state received 254,000 first doses of vaccine this week, but providers requested 425,000, Ciccicioppo said.

The average number of shots per day is about 67,000, he said.

But the pace is quickening, as the number of Pfizer and Moderna doses coming to Pennsylvania is rising, with 12,000 more this week than last, according to

Ciccocioppo.

It will quicken further, with Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine production ramping up, especially because J&J requires only one dose, he said.

J&J should be available for 1a members after a late-month surge of that vaccine takes care of the remainder of the state’s 200,000 school-connected personnel, officials have said. The state has earmarked its initial doses of the J&J vaccine for school personnel.

It’s not known when the state can open up 1b, the next priority group, Ciccocioppo said.

Phase 1b includes people in congregate settings not specified as long-term care facilities, those receiving home care and community-based services, first responders, corrections officers, food and agricultural workers, postal workers, factory and grocery store employees, clergy and public transit workers.

Overall, providers in the state have injected 87 percent of first doses received and 58 percent of second doses, Ciccocioppo said.

Meanwhile, COVID-19 vaccination clinics for area teachers and other school personnel will take place starting Saturday at the Intermediate Unit 8 service area.

The clinics are for school personnel only and are not open to the public. State Department of Health contractor AMI Expeditionary Healthcare will hold a clinic in Blair over three days, a clinic in Cambria for two days and one in Somerset County for a day, according to Tom Butler, executive director of the IU8, which covers Blair, Cambria, Bedford and Somerset counties.

The state’s first J&J batch of 94,000 doses is prioritized for teachers and other staffers, including bus drivers and custodians, who serve preschool and elementary students, special education students and English learners in both public and private schools.

The National Guard and AMI will administer shots.

There are 35 public school districts, 72 non-public schools and five vocational schools in the IU8 territory.

Mirror Staff Writer William Kibler is at 814-949-7038.

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