Danville, Pa. – Geisinger reached another milestone in the COVID-19 vaccine distribution process on Thursday when it administered its 20,000th vaccine.
Of the 20,000 vaccines provided, more than 16,000 were first doses, 14,000 of which were first doses for employees, representing 60 percent of the health system’s employees. Geisinger has also administered more than 10 percent of its first doses to non-Geisinger healthcare personnel in the state’s Phase 1A groups. Second dose vaccinations for employees began on Jan. 6, and nearly 4,000 employees are now fully vaccinated.
Geisinger has been providing vaccines to employees since mid-December and to non-Geisinger employees who qualify since late December. In the past week, Geisinger opened four community based COVID vaccine centers to expand vaccinations to the community in accordance with Department of Health guidelines.
Geisinger continues expanding to provide vaccines as quickly as supplies, staffing and Department of Health guidelines allow. Both the Pfizer BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines are being administered, and they both require two doses. Receiving that second dose is a critical step in the COVID vaccination process to trigger the immune response needed to develop an immunity level against COVID-19.
Appointments remain available at Geisinger’s COVID-19 vaccine centers for those who qualify as part of the state’s Phase 1A groups. Appointments are required to receive the vaccine and can be made online using myGeisinger. A questionnaire must be completed prior to scheduling to ensure eligibility and for health screening purposes. Healthcare personnel must bring to their appointments their healthcare-related identification (certificate, license etc.) to verify eligibility as part of the state’s Phase 1A groups and a valid driver’s license.
While the vaccine distribution is occurring, Geisinger continues to experience the strain of the pandemic inside its hospitals. On average in the first two weeks of January, Geisinger continued admitting more than one new COVID-19 patient per hour, or a daily average of 35 patients. Throughout the beginning of January, on average 1 in 4 patients within the Geisinger system were hospitalized with COVID-19.
Geisinger continues seeing hundreds of new outpatient COVID-19 positive tests, with an average of 270 new outpatient tests per day in the past two weeks. This shows an average two-week positivity rate of 20 percent, meaning 1 in 5 people are testing positive for the virus. In early January, daily new positivity rates reached as high as 300 or 400 new cases.
Geisinger continues to encourage the preventive measures that have been stressed to help stop the spread of the virus as it’s expected to be well into the summer before vaccines are readily available for all community members. Everyone, including those who receive the vaccine, should continue to properly wear a mask, avoid group gatherings, maintain physical distancing and practice proper handwashing.