HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP/KDKA) — Pennsylvania’s Department of Health will carry out a text messaging campaign to encourage roughly 254,000 people in the state to follow through and get the second shot of the two-shot COVID-19 vaccine that they never received, officials said Thursday.

The campaign will begin early next week as the resurgent coronavirus in the form of the highly contagious delta variant is skyrocketing cases in Pennsylvania and across the nation.

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Meanwhile, the state’s acting health secretary, Alison Beam, reiterated that a statewide masking mandate is not currently being contemplated.

The text message will tell the recipient that the “delta variant is here” and encourage them to check vaccines.gov to find a provider nearby. Those receiving the text will have gotten their first shot between Dec. 14 and May 14, Beam said.

Beam said the second dose will provide stronger protection against the delta variant. It’s not too late to get it, and it’s not necessary to start over with the first shot, she said.

State Republicans are pushing back. They feel this raises privacy concerns. They are not sure if the Health Department has the authority to personal information this way.

Wolf doesn’t feel that way.

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“It’s not an invasion of privacy,” he said in Pittsburgh Thursday. “It’s saying, ‘this is our strategy.’ Pennsylvania actually has done a remarkably good job.”

Governor Wolf said he’s pleased with the vaccination rate in Pennsylvania to this point and hopes this will add to the numbers. He said there are no current plans to mandate state employees get the shot.

Data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control show six counties, as of Wednesday, had high or substantial spread: Adams, Cameron, Crawford, Lawrence, Northampton and Wyoming.

That corresponds with places that have lower rates of vaccination, Beam said. No counties were in those categories as of July 9.

About 65% of cases in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service’s Region 3 — which includes Pennsylvania — are delta variant cases, Beam said.

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