Levine describes next phase of COVID-19 vaccine delivery, while urging safety during holidays

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) -- Pennsylvania's health secretary says more than 17,000 healthcare workers across the state were vaccinated against the coronavirus last week. She says, with another vaccine getting the green light, they’re expecting more than 228,000 doses this week.

Dr. Rachel Levine says the state is expecting 30,225 doses of the Pfizer vaccine this week, and 198,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine. The Moderna vaccine can be stored in typical freezers, while the Pfizer vaccine needs extreme cold.

Levine says they’re targeting the Pfizer vaccine for skilled nursing facilities, "because we want to be able to have the Moderna vaccine go to, for instance, rural hospitals that don’t have the refrigeration capabilities."

Levine says next week, the federal partnership with pharmacies CVS and Walgreens will start on-site vaccination services for residents and staff of skilled nursing facilities, though Levine says they’re still working out those details.

Last week Levine said they were expecting 97,000 doses. She says those doses shipped throughout the week. She expects that number will go up as doses received late in the week are administered.

Levine said it's too early to say for certain, but based on 14-day averages, she’s hopeful new cases may be plateauing or slightly declining. She said a dip in new cases around now would be expected if the recent spike was largely caused by Thanksgiving travel and get-togethers

"We really need people to follow all of our mitigation advice for the holidays that are upcoming to stop the spread," she said.

If people heed public health guidance, by wearing masks and staying away from holiday gatherings, "then things look much more hopeful for January. If people travel, if they have large and small gatherings, then we’ll be more challenged. So, we’ll see how things go."

Levine says, since hospitalization rates and the number of deaths from COVID-19 lag new cases, health officials expect both figures to increase into January.