WellSpan York Hospital, UPMC Memorial receive first deliveries of COVID-19 vaccine

Logan Hullinger
York Dispatch
WellSpan York Hospital staff on Thursday morning received the hospital's first shipment of COVID-19 vaccines.

Two major hospitals in York County received their first batches of COVID-19 vaccines and will soon begin vaccinating staff members, according to officials with WellSpan Health and UPMC.

Each of WellSpan Health's seven hospitals in south-central Pennsylvania  received 975 doses of the vaccine, which were developed by multinational pharmaceutical company Pfizer  and BioNTech, a German biotechnology company, according to a Thursday news release.

On Saturday morning, WellSpan's frontline staff in York will be the first to be treated with the vaccine, which clinical trials have shown to be 95% effective at protecting against the infection.

"(The hospitals) each received their shipment early this morning, despite the wintry weather impacts on area roads," said WellSpan spokesperson Ryan Coyle.

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Additionally, UPMC Memorial Hospital was among seven UPMC hospitals in the region to receive vaccines, spokesperson Kelly McCall confirmed, but it was not immediately clear how many doses were delivered,

Frontline staff at UPMC Memorial Hospital will begin to receive vaccines "within the next few days," McCall said.

Vaccines first began to roll out in Pennsylvania this week after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration last week authorized the vaccine for emergency use in the U.S. for individuals who are at least 16 years old.

From left to right: Todd Fry, director of WellSpan Pharmacies, Amanda Nonemaker, pharmacies buyer, and Brent Carpenter, manager of procurement, unbox WellSpan York Hospital's first delivery of COVID-19 vaccines.

Hospitals statewide will receive 97,500 doses directly from Pfizer. Philadelphia alone is expected to receive 13,650 doses, The Associated Press has reported.

In total, Pfizer shipped nearly 3 million doses to 636 sites across the country. The vaccine requires two doses.

The vaccine comes amid a push to fight the pandemic as Pennsylvania and the rest of the nation struggle to fend off a surge in cases, which has prompted concerns that hospitals could become overwhelmed.

York County, as of noon Thursday, had seen an average of 1,377 cases per 100,000 people over the previous 14 days, a common metric to compare cases among municipalities. In the past seven days alone, there were 3,025 new cases. 

York County also had an 18% infection rate between Dec. 4 and Dec. 10, the most recent data made available by the state Health Department. 

That's an increase of 2.6 percentage points over the previous seven-day period, and 1.8 percentage points higher than the statewide infection rate of 16.2%.

Soon, Pfizer and BioNTech won't be the only companies sending out vaccine doses.

On Tuesday, the FDA  confirmed the efficacy of a COVID-19 vaccine developed by Moderna, a Massachusetts-based biotechnology company, The New York Times reported.

The agency is expected to authorize the use of the vaccine — which is reported to be 94.1% effective — on Friday.

As of noon Thursday, there had been 18,556 COVID-19 cases and 320 deaths linked to the disease in York County. Statewide, there were 529,335 cases and 13,392 deaths.

— Logan Hullinger can be reached at lhullinger@yorkdispatch.com or via Twitter at @LoganHullYD.