September 22, 2021

Dear Colleagues,

POMA continues to monitor the rapidly changing information surrounding the spread of COVID-19.

In an effort to provide accurate and helpful information to POMA members, we have gathered some of the resources we are finding to be most useful and accurate at this time. We hope this helps you in staying on top of the latest developments in the spread of the disease and in helping your patients.

Stay safe and healthy!


New Headlines

Pennsylvania Continues to See Rise in COVID-19 Cases

The Pennsylvania Department of Health continues to report increases in positive cases of COVID-19, as well as an increase in hospitalizations. As of September 22, the statewide percent positivity for the week of September 10-16 is 8.9%. The full 14-day moving average since the start of the pandemic can be found here.

Blanket Mask Exemptions Raise Significant Concerns About Medical Judgement

There are press reports in Pennsylvania of a physician who has been offering blanket mask exemptions for individuals. Issuance of a mask exemption without medical evaluation and a valid medical reason brings into question whether the physician exercised appropriate medical judgment and could lead to investigation and potential disciplinary action by the applicable state board of medicine. Besides possible licensure disciplinary measures, POMA is concerned that a physician who gives a blanket exemption could face civil liability not only from the physician’s patients but, possibly, from third parties. It is possible that a court might find that injury or death from COVID-19 resulting from a person infected by someone not wearing a mask with the permission of a physician given without exercising medical judgment was the proximate, foreseeable cause of the injury or death from COVID-19. POMA members should be very cautious in granting mask exemptions in the middle of a pandemic.

PA DOH Rolls Out New Video Resource About COVID Vaccine Safety

The Pennsylvania Department of Health Acting Physician General Dr. Denise Johnson and the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia Director of the Vaccine Education Center and Professor of Pediatrics Dr. Paul Offit have developed a video resource for Pennsylvanians to answer questions about COVID vaccine safety. The video includes a review of the vaccine approval process through the FDA, including the Emergency Use Authorization. They also discuss information on the increasing scientific data on the safety of vaccines for children and pregnant women and the effectiveness of the vaccine against variants, with a highlighted focus on effectiveness against the delta variant.

Dr. Johnson said "With so much information and misinformation out there, access to reliable and trusted sources can help you make the best decision for you and your family... It's essential that we continue to inform and educate Pennsylvanians about the COVID-19 vaccines, because good information leads to good decisions."

Anyone can access and share this video resource on Facebook or PAcast

COVID-19 Booster Shots to Roll Out Starting Late September

Today, the CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) is meeting to debate which Americans should get COVID-19 booster shots and when. The meeting is scheduled to extend into tomorrow. This meeting of the ACIP follows one held by an FDA advisory committee which supported booster doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine only for senior citizens and those at high risk from the virus.

The CDC's priority is still to vaccinate the unvaccinated, who account for the vast majority of COVID-19 cases in the United States. The CDC estimates about 182 million Americans are fully vaccinated, nearly 55% of the population.

Pennsylvania's COVID-19 Vaccine Update

Pennsylvania is currently administering the Comirnaty (Pfizer) vaccine, the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine and the Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) COVID-19 vaccine. Vaccination numbers for Pennsylvania do not include Philadelphia, which is its own jurisdiction, or federal facilities, which are working directly with the federal government.

According to the PA Department of Health, as of September 22nd, 12,621,080 total doses have been administered, including 70,459 additional doses authorized for people who are immunocompromised. There are 6,162,397 fully vaccinated people with a seven-day moving average of more than 15,700 people per day receiving vaccinations.

According to the CDC, as of September 21st, 67.9% of Pennsylvanians age 18 and older are fully vaccinated. Pennsylvania ranks 5th among all states for total doses administered.

Become a COVID-19 Vaccine Provider

POMA is working with the Pennsylvania Department of Health (DOH) to spread the word that YOU can become a COVID-19 vaccine provider!

This summer, Pennsylvania's Acting Physician General Denise Johnson, MD spoke about the DOH's current vaccine objective, pivoting from larger/mass vaccination sites to community physician practices. Enroll as a provider and administer the vaccine in your office - click here to access the enrollment form.

Read the full message from Dr. Johnson regarding this important initiative and how you can keep your community healthy.

PA Health Alert Network (PA HAN) - Health Alerts, Advisories and Updates

Previously Published but Relevant Headlines

CDC Recommendations for Fully Vaccinated People

On Wednesday, July 27, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued new recommendations for fully vaccinated people given new evidence on the Delta variant.

The CDC now recommends for fully vaccinated people to:

  • Wear a mask in public indoor settings in areas of substantial or high transmission.
  • Wear a mask regardless of the level of transmission, particularly if they or someone in their household is immunocompromised, at increased risk of severe disease or not fully vaccinated.
  • Be tested 3-5 days after a known exposure to someone with suspected or confirmed COVID-19, and wear a mask in public indoor settings for 14 days or until a negative test result is obtained.

The CDC also recommends universal indoor masking for all teachers, staff, students and visitors to schools, regardless of vaccination status.

Updated Pennsylvania Coronavirus Links: Press Releases, State Lab Cases, Graphics, Resources

Briefings and Updates from Pa. Governor Wolf and the Department of Health

Resources from the CDC

The CDC has provided guidance and resources for healthcare providers, healthcare facilities, laboratories, as well as information for schools and childcare, businesses and employers, community and faith-based organizations, and the general public. Visit the CDC COVID-19 webpage for more information.

POMA will continue monitoring COVID-19 and provide updates and recommendations from PA-DOH, the CDC, the WHO and local health agencies. POMA's COVID-19 webpage and social media channels will be updated as information is shared from these organizations.

If you have any comments or questions for POMA, please email us at [email protected]

Pennsylvania Osteopathic Medical Association | 1330 Eisenhower Boulevard, Harrisburg, PA 17111
(717) 939-9318 |