Stephanie Stahl reports.
JESSICA KARTALIJA: Good afternoon, everyone. I'm Jessica Kartalija. Yuki is off today.
Governor Tom Wolf today announced a significant expansion of Pennsylvania's vaccination effort. He says he is confident the state will meet President Joe Biden's directive to make everyone eligible by May 1st. Also, a new group of essential workers will get special priority. Health reporter Stephanie Stahl is here with more on the announcements from Pennsylvania. Hi, Stephanie.
STEPHANIE STAHL: Hi, Jessica. Governor Wolf says residents currently eligible for vaccine in phase 1A will have appointments soon, and once teachers are vaccinated, a new group will be getting the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. That includes police, firefighters, and food workers.
TOM WOLF: We have seen impressive improvements in our vaccine infrastructure.
STEPHANIE STAHL: Governor Wolf announcing that all Pennsylvanians in phase 1A will either have been vaccinated or have an appointment in the next two weeks. The acting Health Secretary issued an order that vaccine providers make best efforts to get that group scheduled by March 28.
TOM WOLF: Our vaccine allocations are increasing, which really helps this whole process.
STEPHANIE STAHL: Members of the state vaccine task force joining the governor in embracing President Biden's goal of having everyone covered by May.
RYAN AUMENT: After over a year of uncertainty, and though we recognize that much work remains, today we're able to look forward and perhaps get a glimpse of the end.
STEPHANIE STAHL: The task force also announced a certain portion of J&J vaccine would now be targeted to a larger group of essential workers, including police, firefighters, and other frontline employees.
ART HAYWOOD: Our plan also includes getting vaccines to grocery store workers, food processing workers, many of whom are Black and Brown. We can and will achieve equity.
STEPHANIE STAHL: Senator Haywood, a member of the task force, said southeastern Pennsylvania would be getting its fair share of vaccine.
ART HAYWOOD: The faucet is opening.
STEPHANIE STAHL: The governor also announced a joint mission with the federal government to set up 27 new community vaccine clinics in health centers around the state.
TOM WOLF: We want to get everybody vaccinated as quickly and fairly as possible.
STEPHANIE STAHL: And Governor Wolf said Pennsylvania's vaccination rate is now slightly above the national average of 19%, and the state's ranking in vaccine distribution, that had been in the 40s, has now improved to 38, but there is still a lot of room for more improvement. Jessica.
JESSICA KARTALIJA: Stephanie, thank you.