MONROEVILLE, Pa. (KDKA) – Thousands of people waiting to be vaccinated are signing up to get the Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine at a clinic on Friday and Saturday in Monroeville.
As of Friday morning, Allegheny Health Network has reversed its decision to not allow for walk-ins, saying that walk-ins will now be accepted.READ MORE: Police Investigating Boy Shot In The Leg In Homewood South
“Relief,” said Carol Lewis from Plum. “We can finally start living again.”
Carol and her husband Gus were scheduled to get their vaccines Tuesday, but they saw appointments were available at Next Tier Connect at Pittsburgh East in Monroeville. So, they signed up and say it’s going smoothly.
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“I think it’s wonderful,” said Gus. “The way they’re going here; it’s unbelievable how fast people are coming right through. I’d tell everybody if you get a chance, come on out.”
The two-day clinic is hosted by the Allegheny Health Network and the Allegheny County Health Department.
It’s the largest Johnson & Johnson vaccine clinic in the region to date with the goal to vaccinate 13,000 people.
“If you didn’t think you qualified before, you may qualify now,” said Dr. Crawford-Faucher with AHN Primary Care Institute.
Allegheny Health Network and the Allegheny County Health Department are hosting the two-day clinic. Thousands of appointments are still available, and the Pennsylvania Department of Health granted permission to open eligibility to people in Phase 1C, in addition to Phases 1A and 1B.
“Really at this point, we need to get everyone vaccinated. I think the faster we can broaden it up and open it up to all is better,” said Dr. Crawford-Faucher.
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“Our push is to try to get to herd immunity where we can get as many people vaccinated as possible. That would slow the spread of the virus,” said Imran Qadeer, the chief medical officer of the Allegheny General Hospital.
“I heard about it on the news this morning and walked away from it and I said ‘We got to get ready to go,’” said Richard Kraly from Trafford. “It’s running very smooth.”READ MORE: Ross Park Mall Hosting Job Fair
Kraly and his wife wanted to take advantage of the opportunity. He says the 15 minute wait for the vaccine will be worth it.
“Hopefully, be part of a solution,” Kraly. “Get enough people vaccinated and from what they’re saying, maybe that will be a big help to get the country in a little better shape.”
The new vaccine clinic is set for Saturday as well at Next Tier Connect @ Pittsburgh East in Monroeville from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
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Phase 1C includes essential workers in sectors like food service, housing construction, finance, information technology, communications, government works and more.
The state’s planned eligibility date for Phase 1C remains April 12, so this is an early opportunity for some people.
Meanwhile, business is picking back up at restaurants like DeNunzio’s Italian Trattoria in Monroeville.
“For our restaurant workers, it’s definitely a benefit to them if they have the ability to go and get it and if they want to get it, they can go and get it and make everyone safer and happier in the long run,” said Anthony M. DuNunzio II, the manager at one of the DeNunzio’s Italian Restaurants.
This clinic is being held as concerns remain about the U.K. variant spreading across the state and country.
“The virus needs bodies to replicate and in order to even mutate. So the faster we get more people vaccinated, the fewer bodies there are to infect. So that is how we get to herd immunity. That’s how we slow down the spread of all of the variants and all of the viruses.” said Dr. Crawford-Faucher.
COVID-19 case counts and hospitalizations continue to rise in Allegheny County. Doctors are asking residents to still be cautious, even as more doses of the vaccine become available.
Dr. Crawford-Faucher said she hopes everyone will get vaccinated as soon as they are able to.
“If we have pockets of people who don’t get vaccinated, then we’re that much farther away from normalcy,” Dr. Crawford-Faucher said.MORE NEWS: Robert Beavers, Mayor Of Southern West Virginia Town Re-Elected Two Days After Arrest
For those that would prefer to make an appointment rather than walk-in, they can be reserved at this link.