UPMC Outlines Regional Approach for Vaccine Distribution

By: Lisa Lombardo

Across the state, UPMC has designed and deployed a regional approach to community COVID-19 vaccination that invites those most at risk from the disease to receive the vaccine based on age and where they live. A pilot program based on these criteria launched at UPMC Hamot in Erie last week.

A local resident receives his COVID-19 vaccine at UPMC Hamot.

Using this approach, UPMC proactively calls people who meet Pennsylvania’s 1A prioritization guidelines and live in ZIP codes with the highest rates of COVID-19, encompassing areas that often lack medical resources. To date, UPMC Hamot has administered nearly 2,000 doses to those who aren’t health care workers.

“UPMC’s approach further guarantees that each person who makes an appointment will receive a vaccine as scheduled, and it allows our limited vaccine supply to make the biggest impact on saving lives,” said David Gibbons, president, UPMC Hamot. The hospital initially prioritized people 90 and older and is moving to younger ages as vaccine supply increases.

Staff vaccinate elderly residents against COVID-19 at UPMC Hamot.

Beginning this week in Pennsylvania’s Susquehanna region, UPMC Williamsport, UPMC Wellsboro, UPMC Cole and UPMC Lock Haven are replicating the approach used in Erie. Community members age 85 and older are being invited to vaccination events.

UPMC AltoonaUPMC Northwest in Seneca, UPMC Horizon in Farrell and UPMC Pinnacle hospitals will also initiate the program in the coming weeks, when vaccine supply is available.

As more vaccine supply arrives, UPMC is poised to quickly expand distribution to those in these heavily impacted communities of younger ages and with medical conditions putting them at high risk of complications from the virus.