t. Clair Hospital is vaccinating patients in its database who are 75 years old and up, who are at the highest risk of being hospitalized or dying from COVID-19.By Dr. Maria Simbra

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — St. Clair Hospital is vaccinating some people in the top priority group — Group 1A.

“We reached out to some of our established patients in the age ranges that were at highest risk,” says St. Clair Hospital Chief Medical Officer Dr. John Sullivan. “As you compared relative risks, the overwhelming one was age.”

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To target those most likely to be hospitalized or die from COVID-19, St. Clair Hospital is only vaccinating patients in its database who are 75 years old and up, who are at the highest risk of being hospitalized or dying from COVID-19.

Supplies are limited.

“We’re getting 1,000 to 2,000 doses per week. We’re going to try to do 2,000 this week based on what we have,” he says.

For that reason, the hospital is only immunizing a subset of this broad group that includes people 65 and up and people with cancer, obesity, COPD, and other chronic health conditions.

“Going with an age-based strategy is basically non-negotiable,” Dr. Sullivan said.

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People outside of the strict parameters still try to get in.

“You want to create context for them that there are people that are much higher risk,” Dr. Sullivan said. “I tell people to keep their eye on several potential supply routes. But pharmacies have struck me as potentially an easier route for some people who are anxious to get their dose today.”

The people coming to the hospital are full of joy. Dr. Sullivan likens it to the birth of a baby.

“I find myself congratulating the World War II veteran in his walker, people are taking pictures with their parents,” said Dr. Sullivan.

Doing this in the middle of winter has additional challenges.

“We had some cancellations yesterday,” he said. “So all of us have plans in place to not waste any vaccine because we can’t waste a single dose of vaccine.”

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If you have to reschedule your second dose because of the weather, don’t worry. It doesn’t have to be exactly 21 or 28 days, depending on whether you get Pfizer or Moderna. The CDC says you have up to 42 days.

Dr. Maria Simbra