(WKBN) – Approximately two weeks after Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf and the COVID-19 Vaccine Task Force announced the voluntary single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine would be administered to Pre-K to 12 educators and school staff, the special initiative is ahead of schedule and proven to be a great success.

As of Friday morning, 83,859 people have received the J&J vaccine through this initiative.

“Thank you to everyone who has contributed to our efforts to get school staff vaccinated and for making it happen so quickly,” Wolf said. “Most importantly, vaccinating teachers will help students to get back in the classroom faster, ease the burden on parents and benefit entire communities.”

By the end of the weekend, all 94,600 doses in the initial J&J vaccine allocation will be administered, nearly two weeks before the original goal of the end of the month.

In addition, the commonwealth was able to secure 13,000 more doses last week for a total 107,600 doses. The administration will request another 13,000 doses next week.

The vast majority of educators and support staff who wish to receive a vaccination will have been vaccinated by the end of the month.

The Wolf Administration is collaborating with 28 IUs to operate the clinics with the Pennsylvania National Guard and AMI Expeditionary Healthcare administering the vaccine.

Many IU clinics have already completed vaccinations of teachers and staff working with elementary school and vulnerable students, and have expanded to vaccinating those working with middle grade and high school students, with some IUs having nearly completed all PreK-12 vaccinations.

“This special vaccination initiative is moving incredibly swiftly thanks to the tremendous work of the intermediate units, school districts, Pennsylvania National Guard and state agencies,” Wolf said. “This has been an incredibly challenging year and the success of these vaccine clinics is another reminder that Pennsylvanians are rising to the challenge.”

The governor made the announcement while touring the Bucks County Intermediate Unit’s COVID-19 vaccination area. The governor thanked the educators and medical professionals for their commitment to Pennsylvania’s students.

“The Bucks IU is grateful to the governor and other partners in the commonwealth for setting aside more than 7,000 vaccines for Bucks County school employees and contractors,” said Dr. Mark Hoffman, Bucks IU Executive Director. “As a result of the commonwealth’s efforts, our Bucks County students, their families and school staff are safely assured that in-person instruction can continue in our schools. The Bucks IU is honored to be a part of this historic effort to vaccinate all school employees and contractors.”

A week after the governor announced the special initiative, vaccine clinics started opening, including two on March 10, eight more on March 11, ten more on March 12 and the final eight on March 13.

“PSEA members have gone above and beyond to teach and serve our students,” said PSEA President Rich Askey. “But we want to be with our students – in school and in person. The vaccination program that Gov. Wolf and the COVID-19 Vaccine Task Force created will help to get our schools open and our students learning.”

The vaccination of educators is separate from the ongoing Phase 1A vaccine rollout, which continues at an accelerated pace.

On Thursday, the governor announced an analysis of CDC data on the number of vaccines administered per 100,000 of population over the past week (through March 17), puts Pennsylvania second in the nation behind only New Mexico. And, while these numbers fluctuate daily, this indicator demonstrates the state’s significant progress on vaccinating everyone who wishes to be vaccinated.

The administration is also working through the retail pharmacy partnership to ensure all early childhood education workers, including those not associated with an IU have access to the vaccine, including childcare workers providing an essential service to working families across the commonwealth.

On Friday, Wolf and Acting Secretary of Health Alison Beam detailed the state’s vaccination rollout progress as the process accelerates and Pennsylvania outperforms its peer states.

“The pace of vaccinations in Pennsylvania is accelerating each day,” Wolf said. “We have made tremendous progress, but we know we have more work to do. We appreciate all the providers and locations working to vaccinate Pennsylvanians. The commonwealth is committed to ensure that we can vaccinate all those in Phase 1A as soon as possible.”

As of Friday, March 19:

Cumulative since vaccinations started in December 2020:

  • Vaccine providers have administered 4,043,398 total vaccine doses as of Friday, March 19 – 2,699,008 first/single doses and 1,344,373 second doses
  • 1,428,867 people are fully vaccinated, an increase of 309,869 over last week’s total
  • 1,270,141 people are partially vaccinated, meaning they have received one dose of a two-dose vaccine
  • Combining those fully vaccinated and those who have received one dose only to date means 2,699,008 have received at least one dose of vaccination
  • 24.1% of Pennsylvanians have received at least one dose of vaccine