Allegheny Co. Exec. Rich Fitzgerald is hopeful by the time we reach Memorial Day, a more normal summer will be possible.By John Shumway

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — 4,000 people will be vaccinated against the Coronavirus this week by Giant Eagle and the Steelers at Heinz field. Allegheny Health Network vaccinated 6,000 people over three days at PNC Park at the end of last week, Allegheny County’s vaccination sites are continuing to get shots in arms and the county received another 11,600 doses on Thursday.

As Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald puts it, “You’re starting to see more and more of it happen, but both with Moderna and Pfizer and now that Johnson & Johnson has been approved, so this week we should start to see that flow.

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It started shipping out Sunday night, we should be getting better and better, and I think the processes that the AHN, UPMC, and the pharmacies, to the County Health Department, etc. kind of all have their system down and they’ve improved that part of it as well. So it really is a supply issue, if we could get more supply, we would get them into arms,” Fitzgerald said.

While our region has not seen a massive drive-thru effort like we’ve seen in Los Angeles, Fitzgerald doesn’t believe it is needed.

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“The important part isn’t to just do a large scale operation that obviously would attract a lot of attention. It’s to really get it out into as many arms as we can. Right now in Allegheny County, it looks like there’s been over 250,000 doses that have been administered, we still have a long way to go. We want to get to about, I want to say about 1.6 million, by the time we’re, you know, we feel like we’d have 80% vaccinated in Allegheny County, and I think we’re on that way. How soon will we get there? I’m hoping by late May, early June.”

While the Johnson & Johnson vaccine only requires a single shot, Fitzgerald says folks shouldn’t wait for any specific vaccine.

“I would tell people, whatever one you have the ability to get to take it. They’re all effective they’re all 100% effective against death. They’re 100% effective against severe acute hospitalization.”

And he adds, the closer we get to widespread vaccination, the closer we get to emerging from the pandemic tunnel and into that new normal, “Like if everybody in an office has been vaccinated. They’ll probably be able to take their masks off, you may see theatres and sporting events and activities where you have a vaccine section. I think as more and more people become vaccinated, things will loosen up things like travel restrictions quarantines things along those lines.”

Fitzgerald does think teachers should be moved up the priority list, but that’s a decision the CDC and the Health Departments have to make. That said, he does believe there are a lot of local school districts proving schools can return to in-person learning safely.

Fitzgerald is hopeful by the time we reach Memorial Day, a more normal summer will be possible.

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Already, the CDC and PA Health Department says if you are two weeks past your second vaccination shot, you do not need to quarantine after contact with someone with COVID-19.