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St. Luke’s plans for vaccinating the public

St. Luke’s University Health Network, has announced it has engaged in extensive planning and preparations to expand COVID-19 vaccination access to the general population in a smooth, orderly and safe fashion.

Following Pennsylvania Department of Health directives, St. Luke’s thus far has concentrated its vaccination efforts on Phase 1a priority groups, such as health care employees and first responders.

“We are proceeding in a thoughtful, orderly and safe way,” said Jeffrey Jahre, MD, St. Luke’s Senior VPMA regarding the Department of Health’s announcement in January. “As per the state, we are opening scheduling to individuals age 65 plus and those with medical conditions.

“To avoid lines and chaos, we are prioritizing individuals at the highest risk starting with individuals 75-plus and rapidly working down the list as we have supplies.

“We anticipate that with increased supplies in manufacturing and the addition of other vaccines, like Johnson & Johnson’s, that there will be rapid increase in our ability to accommodate the entire population.”

Register for a vaccination through the St. Luke’s MyChart portal at sluhn.org/vaccine.

Those who do not have a MyChart account may create one.

After completing a brief questionnaire, MyChart users will be notified when it is their turn to schedule an appointment for the vaccine, which they will be able to do online.

If accessing MyChart via the St. Luke’s mobile app, users can find the COVID-19 Vaccine pre-registration under “Questionnaires - Optional Questionnaires.”

Questions related to MyChart can found atslhn.org/covid-19/protect-yourself/covid-19-vaccine/mychart-faqs or by calling 1-866-STLUKES (785-8537), option 5.

Individuals who are currently eligible to receive the vaccine (health care providers, nursing home staff and first responders) may call, 1-866-STLUKES (785-8537), option 7.

St. Luke’s receives a weekly allotment of vaccine from the commonwealth, which distributes to all health systems across Pennsylvania.

The exact allotment is subject to change, making planning somewhat of a moving target.

“Our relationship with Pennsylvania’s Department of Health is very collaborative and cooperative,” states Tracy Arnold, RN, BSN, director of vaccine management for St. Luke’s.

“We are in communication with them frequently and are following the guidelines and rules they set forth.”

Currently, vaccinations are taking place at 11 of St. Luke’s dozen hospital campuses, ensuring easy access throughout the greater Lehigh Valley area, surrounding counties and western New Jersey while minimizing traffic congestion and lines.

The process includes on-site appointment scheduling for a booster, so people leave knowing when and where they’ll receive their second shot. Supplies are reserved for this purpose.

Thus far, St. Luke’s has achieved a vaccination rate of 55 people per hour, or nearly one person a minute.

Because the vaccinations are taking place in a hospital setting, patients can be monitored for adverse reactions and provided appropriate treatment if necessary.

“We have not seen any major adverse reactions,” Jahre states.

“However, all of our sites have direct access to emergency medical care in case of a severe allergic reaction.”

Plan updates can be found at health.pa.gov/topics/disease/coronavirus/Vaccine/Pages/Vaccine.aspx.

Additional information about future phases of vaccine distribution will be communicated as it becomes available.

For updates from St. Luke’s, visit sluhn.org/vaccine.