All Pennsylvanians Aged 16+ Now Eligible for COVID-19 Vaccine


Ryan Keating, Editor

On Monday morning, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf announced that, as of Tuesday, April 13th, all Pennsylvanians aged 16 and older will be eligible to sign up for COVID-19 vaccination.

Prior to Monday, the COVID-19 vaccines were not to be made available to all adults until April 19th, with Phase 1C just set to begin.

This measure comes as distributors have been struggling to fill appointments and use all their allotted doses, in part due to vaccine hesitancy. According to Acting Secretary of Health Rachel Beam, the near-universal access will also make for more-streamlined appointment scheduling.

The current available vaccines (developed by Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson) have only been approved for emergency use in adults aged 16 and up. Pfizer has requested federal authorization for its vaccine to be used in adolescents aged 12-15, but it’s unclear how long such an approval for emergency use will take. Clinical trials have shown it is highly effective.

However, this apparent good news belies bad news. The 7-day average for new COVID cases in Pennsylvania has increased to over 4,000 per day. In Bucks County, the 7-day average has increased to 253 new cases per day.

Additionally, this increased availability does not guarantee supply or appointments. There have been limited quantities of the vaccine, with shortages of the J&J single-shot vaccine reported. Concerns over the occurrence of blood clots in recipients of the J&J vaccine have also placed it under scrutiny.

[Update: as of 4/13, the FDA and CDC have “paused” the use of the J&J vaccine at federal vaccination sites, and have urged states to halt its use.]

[Update: as of 4/13, Bucks County has paused use of the J&J vaccine, which was exclusively distributed at its Warwick Square site, and postponed those appointments. All other County-operated sites use exclusively the Pfizer vaccine and will proceed as scheduled.] 

Vaccine availability is nonetheless something to celebrate. To check availability and schedule an appointment through the Bucks County Health Department, visit their site below: