Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine announced Wednesday the federal Pharmacy Partnership for Long-Term Care Program has begun vaccinating residents and staff at 126 Pennsylvania skilled nursing facilities, including Sweden Valley Manor in Coudersport, using the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine.

“Vaccinating residents and staff at skilled nursing facilities is critical to protecting these vulnerable populations,” Dr. Levine said. “As our federal partners work to coordinate vaccinations for this critical population, we remind Pennsylvanians to remain calm and patient as we continue to rollout our phased distribution.”

Starting on Monday, Dec. 28, CVS Pharmacy has been working to vaccinate residents and staff in 120 skilled nursing facilities and Walgreens has been holding vaccine clinics at six skilled nursing facilities. Developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the program provides end-to-end management of the COVID-19 vaccination process at no cost to the facilities. The distribution timeline of facilities was selected by CVS Pharmacy, Walgreens and Operation Warp Speed

In the first weeks, the partnership will vaccinate skilled nursing facilities’ staff and residents. In Pennsylvania, these facilities are licensed by the Department of Health. All licensed skilled nursing facilities in Pennsylvania are eligible for the program.

Of eligible facilities, 603 have chosen the federal pharmacy partnership to complete vaccination and 89 have opted out of the federal pharmacy partnership. The department will be working with those that have opted out to complete vaccinations.

Pennsylvania submitted to the CDC a list of additional facility types for the CDC’s review and approval to participate in the federal partnership including personal care homes, assisted living facilities, private intermediate care facilities for individuals with developmental disabilities, community group homes, residential treatment facilities for adults, long-term structured residences, state veterans homes, state centers, private psychiatric hospitals and Continuing Care Retirement Communities. If the CDC approves these facility types, they will receive vaccination through the partnership after skilled nursing facilities.

As of Dec. 29, hospitals have vaccinated 96,045 health care workers and will continue to vaccinate those in Group 1A. This week, 56 hospitals either have or will receive 47,775 Pfizer-BioNTech and 26,100 Moderna COVID-19 vaccine doses shipped directly to hospitals and health care systems for continued vaccination of hospital staff and non-affiliated individuals through coordinated hospital partnerships.