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NASD vaccine clinic is postponed

Deb Pavis, co-owner of Newhard Pharmacy with her husband, John, was enthusiastic to roll out the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine.

“It was super exciting when we were helping people,” Pavis said. “We would love to help more people. We’re geared up. We have the facility.”

Unfortunately, Newhard Pharmacy, as with other authorized vaccine sites in the Lehigh Valley, can do no more for now.

There’s a shortage of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine because several providers gave out second-dose vaccines as first doses, the Pennsylvania Department of Health reported Feb. 17. The weather conditions across the nation have also impacted deliveries.

A vaccine clinic to administer the second dose of Moderna for eligible and willing Northampton Area School District staff, set for Feb. 22 at Northampton Area High School, had to be postponed.

As of press time, a new date for the clinic had not been scheduled.

“It will depend on the number of vaccines Newhard Pharmacy receives. It will be a week-to-week decision,” NASD Superintendent of Schools Joseph S. Kovalchik said.

Newhard Pharmacy staff administered the first dose of the Moderna vaccine to 123 NASD staff members Jan. 25 in the high school cafeteria. NASD staff over age 65 and those who are considered high risk based on their health status were given the first dose, according to Kovalchik.

Taking the vaccine shot was voluntary for eligible NASD staff. Receiving the second vaccine shot is also voluntary.

The second Moderna vaccination is effective if administered between 28 and 42 days after the first dose, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Vaccine deliveries are scheduled on weekdays in the region. Weather and other factors caused the vaccine to not be delivered the week of Feb. 14. The vaccine inventory was not expected to be replenished until the week of Feb. 22.

Newhard Pharmacy received its first shipment of the Moderna vaccine Jan. 15. Vaccine shipments are received Fridays. Newhard receives the Moderna vaccine from a wholesaler. The wholesales include CardinalHealth, McKesson and AmerisourceBergin, the latter distributing the vaccine in the Lehigh Valley.

“We ran out of first-dose vaccines,” Pavis said. ”We would love to be open and handle anyone who is qualified. But we’re not getting the vaccine. We’re currently in arrears. We can’t do any more doses.”

NASD has approximately 50 additional staffers eligible who want the vaccine.

Newhard Pharmacy hasn’t even received vaccine doses for its own customers.

“We probably have 300 to 400 people who are qualified Phase 1A, but we just don’t have the doses,” Pavis said.

Pennsylvania is in Phase 1A of the four phases of COVID-19 vaccine distribution. These include health care workers, those living in long-term care facilities, persons ages 65 and older and those ages 16-64 with high-risk conditions.

Pavis said Newhard Pharmacy made its request to be a vaccination site in October 2020. It was a two- to three-month process.

“The state is monitoring each vaccine given, and they are requesting that within 24 hours of giving the vaccine, they are notified,” explained Pavis. “We had to get an interface between our pharmacy’s software provider and state department of health.”

She reported they have sat in on a call with Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf’s COVID-19 Vaccine Joint Task Force weekly since January to get the most updated information.

“They’re getting requests for 750,000 vaccines per week. They only have 175,000 vaccines,” Pavis said.

She noted there is a high level of frustration.

“We have never had a state-distributed product,” Pavis said. “It’s very unusual for everybody involved. The reporting isn’t so different. It’s the distribution that’s different.”

Pavis noted the pharmacy opened clinics Jan. 18 to all the assisted-living facilities, personal care homes and groups they service in the area.

“Then on Jan. 25, that’s when we did the school district,” Pavis said. “We also opened it to the public if they were Phase 1A. We were allowed to vaccinate anyone who was Phase 1A.”

She said their pharmacists are qualified, and the pharmacy has been giving vaccinations for years.

Newhard Pharmacy was established in 1895, according to the pharmacy’s website. In 1969, John A. Pavis and Peter J. Stahl purchased the pharmacy at 1216 Main St., Northampton, from Aaron Newhard. The new location was built in 1975 at 1001 Main St., the site of the Northampton & Bath Railroad Station.

In 1994, Newhard Pharmacy established its long-term care pharmacy. In 2003, Peter J. Stahl retired and John J. Pavis became his father’s partner in the pharmacy. In 2015, John A. Pavis stepped back and John J. Pavis became owner with his wife, Deb.

There have been other postponements of second-dose COVID-19 vaccinations in the Lehigh Valley because of the supply problems.

Lehigh Valley Health Network is rescheduling its COVID-19 vaccination appointments, according to Feb. 17 and 19 news releases. Those who were to receive the Moderna second-dose vaccines Feb. 19, 20, 21 and 22 will have new appointments. About 3,200 appointments are to be rescheduled.

The vaccination clinic at Dorney Park & Wildwater Kingdom, South Whitehall Township, was to have been held Feb. 24 as scheduled.

St. Luke’s University Health Network announced Feb. 17 it is rescheduling COVID-19 vaccinations because of the supply shortage. St. Luke’s vaccinates about 3,000 per day at 11 hospital-based sites in the Lehigh Valley region.

The Allentown Health Bureau postponed second-dose COVID-19 vaccination appointments this week at the Agri-Plex, Allentown Fairgrounds, because of the supply shortage.

For details about the four phases of COVID-19 vaccinations in Pennsylvania, visit health.pa.gov/topics/disease/coronavirus/Vaccine/Pages/Vaccine.aspx#distribution.

For the Newhard Pharmacy information about COVID-19 vaccinations, visit newhardpharmacy.com.

PRESS PHOTO BY BILL LEINER JR. Deb and John Pavis, of Newhard Pharmacy, Northampton, will hold the second-dose COVID-19 vaccine clinic for Northampton Area School District employees as soon as supplies are received.