Excela Health established a registry for anyone who wants to get the coronavirus vaccine.
Those who register will receive a notification when an appointment is available to them as health system officials said they were assured they could expect consistent distributions of the vaccine in the coming weeks.
Chief Medical Officer Dr. Carol Fox and Chief Executive Officer John Sphon praised workers in the IT department who created the waiting list.
“We’re excited and pleased to be able to provide it to the community,” Sphon said.
“We’re just very fortunate to be able to have the brainpower within the organization to put this together,” Fox said.
The registry is available online at excelahealth.org under covid-19 vaccine information. Notifications will be sent by email. Names can be added to the registry by calling 724-689-1690 from Monday to Friday between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. for those who don’t have internet access. Anyone who registers their name by phone will be contacted in the same manner when it is their turn to make an appointment.
The move comes as state health officials push vaccine providers to schedule appointments by the end of the month for everyone in the first phase of Pennsylvania’s immunization plan. Phase 1A includes health care workers, long-term care residents, anyone older than 65 and those who are 16 to 64 with certain health conditions.
Those individuals have struggled to find appointments from the beginning of the rollout, often because of a lack of supply. Anyone in that 1A category who registers with Excela Health will get a notification next week to make an appointment, Fox said. All appointments will be scheduled for a clinic that opened last week in the former Galaxy Fitness building at 8885 Norwin Ave. in North Huntingdon, near Excela Square at Norwin.
The clinic has administered about 3,800 vaccines so far, said spokeswoman Robin Jennings. Appointments are required.
The registry asks for biographical and contact information as well as occupation and other details that will help officials determine when a person is eligible, Fox said. Previously, the health system was releasing appointments online and by phone as vaccine doses were received.
With assurance from state officials of a steady distribution, future appointments can now be made even if Excela Health doesn’t have the vaccine in hand, she said. The number of inoculation providers were reduced last week statewide to allow for focused allocations.
Some small pharmacies are working off waiting lists with thousands of names that have been growing for weeks. Fox asked anyone who is already on such a list to refrain from joining Excela’s registry. That will ensure that those who need an appointment can get one soon after it becomes available. Anyone who enters their name to the registry and gets a vaccine from another provider is asked to cancel their Excela Health registration.
“It makes it very cumbersome when people get on waiting lists and registry lists at multiple locations,” she said.
In Westmoreland County, nearly 50,000 people are fully covered by the vaccine and another 50,000 are partially covered, according to state health data. Even though the rate of immunization is increasing in the community, Fox said community members should stay vigilant.
“You really don’t know who’s been vaccinated and who hasn’t and you really don’t know who’s the most vulnerable,” she said.
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