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Acting Secretary of Health Visits UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, Joins Health Care Leaders to Discuss COVID-19 Strategy and Child Vaccination

02/03/2022

Pittsburgh, PA - Pennsylvania Department of Health Acting Secretary Keara Klinepeter today visited UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh to join some of western Pennsylvania’s health care leaders for a discussion about the state’s COVID-19 strategy for health care settings and to encourage vaccination for children and adults. 

“You may have seen reports documenting a decline in COVID-19 cases and hospitalization numbers and while that is welcome news it’s important to know that there is still a significant strain on health care workers and systems across the commonwealth,” Klinepeter said. “Health care workers deserve and need our help, which is why we are finding creative and innovative ways to step up and encouraging Pennsylvanians to do the same.” 

Earlier this week leaders of the Pennsylvania departments of Health and Military and Veterans Affairs along with the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency announced four long-term care regional support sites to relieve pressure on hospitals and skilled nursing facilities due to a high number of patients with COVID-19. These are the latest supports for health care workers and systems along with state strike teams and federal relief.  

“There is more that the state is doing to support healthcare workers, but it is more important than ever to talk about what each of us can do, including getting vaccinated,” Klinepeter said. “As part of my visit to Children's Hospital today, I want to especially urge all parents of children five and older to get their kids vaccinated as soon as possible. It's a critical step to support healthcare workers and to protect kids. The pediatric vaccine is safe and highly effective at protecting children against COVID-19-related illness, hospitalization and death.” 

“From our early masking guidance to our mass vaccine clinics, then to our monoclonal antibody treatment care delivery, to our delivery of the Evusheld prevention therapy, which protects our most immunocompromised patients, we have partnered with the commonwealth on solutions to safeguard the community and care for them when they need us,” said Dr. Donald Yealy, UPMC’s Chief Medical Officer. “Working with the commonwealth’s thoughtful, dedicated team, UPMC is a proud partner as we continue to pioneer the fundamentals of managing this pandemic. We still don’t know what the future holds with COVID-19 infections and serious illnesses in our regions or what life after omicron looks like. But there is reason for optimism.” 

Allegheny Health Network’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Donald Whiting encouraged child and adult vaccination to protect against serious complications brought on by COVID-19 infection.  

“From the very start of the pandemic, AHN and Highmark Health have proudly joined our region’s many healthcare providers, public health and government officials, and partners of all kinds, in leading the collective effort to protect our citizens, care for the sick and help our communities recover,” said Dr. Whiting. “At this point in time, there is no better way to bring this crisis to an end than to continue supporting and advocating strongly for vaccine access and acceptance by everyone who meets eligibility, including children and adults.”     

To find a vaccine location near you visit vaccines.gov and click Find COVID-19 Vaccines & Boosters.  

MEDIA CONTACT: Mark O'Neill - ra-dhpressoffice@pa.gov

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