York County falls behind in vaccinations amid surge in COVID-19 cases

Logan Hullinger
York Dispatch
Former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa holds his vaccination card after receiving his first shot of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccination in January 2021. On Monday, March 29, 2021, the White House said that the federal government won't take the lead in creating a centralized document proving vaccination. (Allen J. Schaben/Los Angeles Times/TNS)

York County's vaccination rate is lagging behind most other Pennsylvania counties — but local health officials have differing opinions as to why.

About 10,214 residents per 100,000 people have been partially vaccinated in York County, according to state Health Department data. About 15,540 residents per 100,000 people have been fully vaccinated.

Of the 67 counties in the state, that ranks York as 38th and 37th, respectively.

“At this point, the clearest indication is that this is a supply issue,” Dr. Matt Howie, medical director of the York City Bureau of Health said. “We’ve not yet gotten to the point where vaccine hesitancy is going to rear its head. We’re still seeing demand exceeding supply.”

More:Pa. still plans to lift mitigation efforts on Sunday despite warnings from Biden, CDC

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Howie said hesitancy to get vaccinated is still an issue. But it won't be clear how much of an impact that hesitancy will have until supply and demand equal out.

Those in charge of administering vaccines seem to have a different take as to why York County isn't getting needles into arms at a faster rate.

"WellSpan is actively working with community partners across York County as we seek to reduce vaccine hesitancy and overcome barriers for at-risk individuals to get vaccinated, as everyone deserves a shot of hope," WellSpan Health spokesperson Ryan Coyle said.

The health system has administered more than 100,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine in York County, Coyle said. It has administered nearly 10,000 doses at its Manchester Township vaccination clinic alone.

Pennsylvania as a whole lags behind other states in the race to vaccinate residents.

With 35% of its population partially vaccinated, Pennsylvania ranks 14th in the country, according to a New York Times analysis. 

Pennsylvania ranks 32nd in terms of its percentage of residents who are fully vaccinated. About 19% have been fully vaccinated, according to the analysis.

"We know that there is significant interest among all Pennsylvanians about when they will get vaccinated," said state Health Department spokesperson Maggi Mumma. "The Pennsylvania Department of Health is working to ensure that everyone who wants a COVID-19 vaccine can get it."

The state Department of Health announced late last month that all adults in Pennsylvania will be eligible for the vaccine by April 19.

As of Thursday at noon, 45,867 York County residents had been partially vaccinated and 69,785 had been fully vaccinated.

Statewide, 1,795,570 people had been partially vaccinated, while 2,073,705 had been fully vaccinated.

But even as more people become vaccinated, Pennsylvania is one of five states that accounts for nearly half of new COVID-19 infections, The Associated Press reported on Monday.

New York, Michigan, Florida, Pennsylvania and New Jersey reported 44% of the nation’s new COVID-19 infections over a seven-day period. That accounted for nearly 197,500 new cases.

The state has continued to ease mitigation measures even as case rates rise, with Acting Health Secretary Alison Beam citing progress in vaccine rollout efforts.

On Sunday, indoor dining capacity was raised to 75% if restaurants self-certify, meaning they agree to abide by the state's mitigation guidelines. 

Other businesses, such as gyms, casinos and theaters, also had capacities raised to 75%.

As of Thursday at noon, there had been 40,691 COVID-19 cases reported in York County, an increase of 165 cases over the day prior. There was also one additional death, bringing the county's death toll to 755.

Statewide, the case total hit 1,059,044, an increase of 4,746 cases over the day before. About 90% of patients have recovered. There were also 42 additional deaths. The death toll now stands at 25,327.

Editor's Note: Graphs showing the number of daily COVID-19 cases and deaths for York County sometimes have different day-to-day totals than the numbers reported in The York Dispatch’s daily COVID-19 updates because of the way the data is reported to the state Department of Health.

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