Pennsylvania is participating in the federal Pharmacy Partnership Program in order to coordinate vaccination for skilled nursing facilities, which are licensed by the Department of Health (DOH), as well as personal care homes, assisted living facilities, and private intermediate care facilities for people with intellectual disabilities licensed by the Department of Human Services (DHS). The federal Pharmacy Partnership Program began vaccinating skilled nursing facilities on December 28, 2020 and expanded to personal care homes and assisted living facilities earlier in January.
While long-term and congregate care settings included in Phase 1A of Pennsylvania’s Interim Vaccination Plan, including group homes for people with disabilities; residential treatment facilities and long-term structured residences for adults with behavioral health needs; and private psychiatric hospitals, are also included in the federal Pharmacy Partnership Program, not all were enrolled. They are in the first prioritization group due to the risk of COVID-19 outbreaks in congregate settings serving people who have co-occurring medical needs that put them at risk of more severe cases if they contract COVID-19. Some personal care homes and assisted living facilities were also not enrolled in the federal Pharmacy Partnership program. DHS and DOH are partnering with Rite Aid beginning this week to vaccinate DHS-licensed long-term care facilities not included in or not currently scheduled or enrolled with the federal Pharmacy Partnership Program.
Phase 1A facilities eligible for this vaccination through this partnership will be contacted in the near future by their licensing office with details to assist them to prepare for vaccinations and vaccination clinic schedules for their area. Some facilities may have already been contacted by Rite Aid and have scheduled their vaccinations. This effort is separate from the Retail Pharmacy Partnership program, so please wait for further direction and do not contact Rite Aid locations directly.
If you have questions about this process, please email your licensing office:
- The Office of Developmental Programs: [email protected]
- The Office of Long-Term Living: [email protected]
- The Office of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services: [email protected]
As facilities prepare for vaccination through either of these partnerships or local relationships, we know that residents and staff may have questions about the vaccine. DHS and DOH, in partnership with the Jewish Healthcare Foundation, created a COVID-19 Vaccination Toolkit with information about the COVID-19 vaccines, including resources about encouraging vaccine participation, information on vaccine efficacy and safety, and examples of how facilities can encourage their staff and residents to participate in this process. The toolkit can be accessed here.
We are continuing to develop resources that may be helpful as the vaccination process continues. If you think of additional resources that would be helpful, please let your licensing office know.