Bucks County will be opening two new COVID-19 vaccine sites next week, a move it anticipates will nearly double the current vaccination rate and cut into the current appointment backlog.
The two new sites at the St. Luke’s hospital in Quakertown Borough and the Neshaminy Mall in Bensalem are expected to open on March 16, Bucks County Commissioners Vice Chairman Bob Harvie confirmed Tuesday.
The commissioners are set to vote on the agreements for the new vaccine locations at their meeting Wednesday. Last month, Bensalem Mayor Joseph DiGirolamo announced the mall would host one of the county’s vaccine clinics, but county officials would not confirm the news at the time.
Harvie was not sure where in the mall the vaccine center will be located. He added the commissioners also considered the Oxford Valley Mall in Middletown as a vaccine location, but it would have taken longer to get it ready, Harvie said.
The new locations will be able to vaccinate up to 1,000 people a day combined, Harvie said. The county currently can vaccinate up to 600 people a day combined at its clinics on Bucks County Community College’s three campuses.
With the additional sites, the county estimates it will be able to vaccinate up to 1,600 people daily before the end of the month. Those estimates are for first and second shots combined.
Residents who have already received their first dose of the vaccine at one of the current clinics will be directed to go to their original location for the second dose, Harvie said.
The county will be sending out a new status update email this week to individuals who’ve pre-registered on its site, Harvie said. The email will ask people to validate and update their registration information, including if they have received the vaccine at another provider.
Bucks County officials have found some mistakes in some pre-registrations, such as a wrong birth year, name spelling typos, or someone forgot to mark an eligible health condition.
The county is vaccinating people in the 1A category, including people ages 65 and older and those younger with certain chronic health conditions.
It currently is scheduling appointments for more than 11,000 1A individuals who pre-registered on Jan. 15, the second day the vaccine portal was open.
More than 57,000 people in 1A category pre-registered during the first week the portal was open. So far, 153,817 have pre-registered in that category, according to the county.
Last week, the county emailed those who’ve pre-registered to confirm their name is on the list and let them know where the county is at with scheduling appointments based on registration signup dates.
The county also has added a chart to its website that displays the number of people who registered each day on the county’s vaccine portal. Appointments are being scheduled based on registration dates. Neighboring Montgomery County has a similar chart on its COVID-19 web page.
The county anticipates ramping up its vaccine efforts this week after its health department received almost 4,700 doses of the two-dose Pfizer vaccine.
The county hopes to double the number of shots given this week at its three immunization clinics from 200 to 400 a day or 6,000 for the week, officials said in a press release.
A total of 11,028 doses of vaccine were administered countywide last week, including nearly 3,000 at county-run clinics, which opened Feb. 16.
Through Saturday, 95,382 doses of vaccine had been administered in Bucks County, with 30,884 people receiving first-round shots and 32,249 others fully vaccinated.
Bucks County ranks 34th among the 66 counties with vaccine allocations; neighboring Montgomery County is 20th. The rankings exclude Philadelphia, which has a separate vaccine allocation.
Meanwhile, the rate of new infections continues to drop with an increase of less than 4% last week, following a 32% drop the week before. State health data shows 1,050 new positive cases in Bucks County from Feb. 21 through 27.
The seven-day average for new cases is 152, up slightly from last week, while the test positivity rate continued to decline, falling from 8.2% to 7%.
For more information about the COVID vaccine in Bucks County
Including a link to pre-register for vaccination visit the Bucks County Coronavirus Vaccine Information page.