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A community vaccination clinic operated by WellSpan Health in Adams County (photo/submitted).

How are vaccines working in Central PA?

As more and more Central Pennsylvanians are vaccinated against Covid-19, regional health systems are getting a clearer picture of whether the shots work as advertised.
  • Early results suggest they are, with the most specific data coming from York County-based WellSpan Health
  • In April, WellSpan hospitals admitted 476 patients with Covid-19. 
  • Of those patients, seven had received two vaccine doses. 
  • Four were fully vaccinated -- meaning their second shot had been given at least two weeks before -- but they were described as having severely suppressed immune systems.
  • The three others were still inside the two-week waiting period after the second shot, according to Dr. Tony Aquilina, an executive vice president and chief physician executive at WellSpan, which operates hospitals in Adams, Franklin, Lancaster, Lebanon and York counties.
  • Penn State Health did not have hard numbers readily available, according to spokesperson Barbara Schindo. But, she wrote in an email, the majority of Covid-19 patients in the intensive care unit at Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center is either unvaccinated or partially vaccinated.

How do the vaccines work: They are generally -- but not entirely -- effective at preventing Covid-19 transmission, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  • They are seen as quite effective, however, at preventing hospitalization among vaccinated people who do contract Covid-19.
  • The two-dose vaccinations from Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna offer the most protection starting two weeks after the second shot. The two-week window also applies to the single-dose shot from Johnson & Johnson

Why does it matter: Health systems are trying to encourage more Pennsylvanians to get shots and the local data could convince those who are hesitant. 
  • “The takeaway here is that this is further evidence that COVID-19 vaccination works,” Aquilina said in a statement. “We need to continue to encourage our friends and neighbors to get vaccinated.”
  • Just over half of state residents are fully vaccinated but demand for vaccines appears to be fading as Covid-19 restrictions start to ease.

Is hesitancy the only problem: No. Vaccine distribution in Pennsylvania has not reached communities of color as effectively as others, according to reporting by Spotlight PA.
  • Health systems have responded by working to make vaccinations more accessible, including through mobile units.
  • The effort is likely to take on greater urgency as most Covid-19 restrictions disappear over the Memorial Day weekend and people seek to put the pandemic behind them.
  • Nonetheless, Pennsylvania hit a key milestone yesterday: 70% of state residents over 18 have received at least one dose of a vaccine.
  • Once 70% are fully vaccinated, the state will lift the remaining mask mandate, which requires unvaccinated people to wear masks indoors.

What’s next: It is never too early for people to begin mulling the risk of a potential fall resurgence.

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Program offers legal advice to Black entrepreneurs

They are selling culturally relevant greeting cards and chicken sandwiches. They are helping people move and they are polishing company websites and marketing campaigns. One is giving young people in York something to do after school.
  • They are Black entrepreneurs in Harrisburg, Lancaster and York (pictured below) who are benefitting from a legal-services program started last year by Harrisburg law firm McNees Wallace & Nurick.
  • Read more about the program and the entrepreneurs here at

Quick takes

WHO'S EXPANDING: West Shore Home. The Mechanicsburg-based home remodeling company has opened an office in Greer, South Carolina, its third in the state. The new office is in the state's northwest corner. The company's existing offices are in Charleston, along the coast, and in Columbia, the state capital roughly in the center of South Carolina.
  • The Greer location will include office space, warehouse space and areas for sales training.
  • Founded in 2006, West Shore Home has locations in 12 states, stretching from Pennsylvania south to Florida.
  • The company has grown through acquisitions and organic additions. Earlier this month, it added a location in southeastern Pennsylvania.

WHO'S WEIGHING OPTIONS: Transource Energy, the Ohio-based company that wants to spend $372 million to build a pair of power lines through York and Franklin counties. The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission officially nixed the plan this week but the company can petition for a reconsideration or appeal to Commonwealth Court, according to PUC spokesperson Nils Hagen-Frederiksen. 
  • The PUC decision follows a similar call by an administrative law judge, who determined that Transource failed to show a need for the project and that the project would have "detrimental economic and environmental impacts."
  • Neighboring businesses and landowners in southern York and Franklin counties have fought the line since it was first proposed in 2017. The project would require use of eminent domain to acquire land.

What's next: In an emailed statement, Transource said it is reviewing the PUC decision and considering its next steps.
  • "We are disappointed with the Commission’s decision not to pursue this project despite the overwhelming evidence of the benefits," the company wrote. "PJM [which operates the regional electric grid] has shown this project is a necessary investment to address market inefficiencies and reliability issues. These problems do not go away with today’s action, and ultimately they will need to be addressed." 


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Compiled and written by Joel Berg

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