COVID-19 vaccine plan underway in Monroe County

Vaccine is being distributed by Lehigh Valley Hospital


Via. Pixabay

As the pandemic surges through Pennsylvania, the Poconos received their first shipment of the COVID-19 vaccine. So, when will you have access to the vaccine? Will things finally return to normal?

Every day, the number of COVID-19 cases soar, causing scientists to work relentlessly in order to produce a viable vaccine. With the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) decision to grant the emergency use of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine, as well as Moderna’s vaccine, hospitals across the United States are beginning to receive shipments of the vaccine.

The vaccine itself is an mRNA-based vaccine. Here is how the vaccine will work: it will tell our cells to make a spike protein, which is found on the surface of the virus itself, resulting in an immune response and the production of COVID-19 antibodies.

“It is a mRNA vaccine,” said biology teacher Mr. James Bruski. “They teach our cells how to make a protein that triggers an immune response inside our bodies. That immune response, which produces antibodies, is what protects us from getting infected if the real virus enters our bodies.”

In total, there will be four phases to the vaccination plan: Phase 1A, 1B, 1C, and 2. Pennsylvania is currently in Phase 1A of the vaccination plan where long-term.  In this phase, care facility residents and first-hand healthcare personnel will be vaccinated.

The general population will have access to the vaccine by Phase 2 of the plan. This can take anywhere from a few months to as long as over a year. Accordingly, Pennsylvania, more specifically the Poconos, has shown positive progress.

Lehigh Valley Health Network Poconos (LVHN) received its first shipment of the Covid-19 vaccine on December 18, 2020. Shortly following the shipment, many of the staff members were given the vaccination. 21 days following the initial shot, a booster shot will be given to them.

Within the weeks following the shipment, numerous events have occurred. For instance, on December 29, 2020, Mr. Brian Nester, LVHN President, and CEO, issued a statement that claimed the vaccine will be free to everyone within the community.

Furthermore, on January 9, the fire chief of Pocono Mountain Volunteer Fire Company, Logan Evans, received a dose of the vaccine. He is one of the initial first responders to receive the vaccine. LVHN announced that they will now be vaccinating first responders, such as police officers, firefighters, and others.

On the other hand, on January 21, Pleasant Valley Manor is planning on holding three vaccination clinics on separate dates, for their staff and residents, with the help of Walgreens. They plan to complete the third clinic by March 4, 2021.

Also, pharmaceutical companies, such as CVS and Walgreens, plan to achieve Phase 2 at some point this year. Other hospitals, such as St. Luke’s Hospital Monroe Campus, have also received a shipment of the vaccine and are in the process of distribution similar to LVHN.

“I heard from a friend who is working at the Saint Luke’s Hospital Monroe campus that they already started to vaccinate the staff working there,” said senior Matthew Kasperek.

While all of these vaccination opportunities opening up, there some people who have mixed feelings about the vaccine. They fear that the vaccine has been rushed and its effects have not been thoroughly tested at this juncture.

“I will wait until a more refined version of the vaccine is released, which would hopefully have better results than the current vaccines,” said Kasperek. “These COVID-19 vaccines were developed and released within a very short period of time compared to other vaccines, so I think that there might very well be problems with the vaccine.”

On the other hand, many believe that the vaccine is necessary and safe.

“There are very high safety standards and testing to help make sure that vaccines in the United States are safe,” said Bruski.

As the future quickly approaches, so do numerous opportunities. There will come a day when the vaccine will be available to the public, but for now, lockdown protocols are still recommended, even for people who have been vaccinated.

“Vaccines help protect against serious, even deadly, diseases,” said Bruski. “They not only protect you, but ideally help to keep these diseases from spreading to others. If you could still potentially pass the virus to close contact, I say mask up.”

To find out more about the vaccination status within PA, check out these links:

PA distribution plan:
Lehigh Valley Health Network vaccine information: