EYEWITNESS NEWS (WBRE/WYOU-TV) — It’s a question that is heard over and over again across our region. Why is it so difficult, if not impossible, to get an appointment for a COVID-19 vaccine shot?
Many people have reached out to the I-Team expressing their frustration about the vaccine rollout in Pennsylvania. They are demanding answers from Harrisburg.
“There is no rhyme or reason to what they are doing to vaccinate people,” Lake Ariel resident Robert said. “Little pop ups in the middle of the night if you are lucky to catch them on the internet you may be able to get a spot. I was lucky enough it was like hitting the lotto.”
84-year-old Nancy from Hazleton is among those frustrated as well.
“It’s either going to come down I finally get an appointment by hook or by crook or I guess I’ll go without and I’ll be one of those spreaders,” she told the I-Team.
Ellen from Monroe County emailed Eyewitness News.
“As a resident of Monroe County, I don’t understand why vaccines in this particular county are so difficult to find,” she wrote.
“There wasn’t a good plan in place .They created a task force unfortunately that task force should have been created last summer. We knew we were going to get the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines before the end of 2020 and Pennsylvania wasn’t ready now we are only playing catch up,” Sen. John Yudichak (I, 14th District said).
Yudichak has been critical of the state’s handling of the COVID-19 vaccine rollout. He says some lost ground can still be made up.
“We need to have a private public partnership to make sure we are getting the vaccine as it comes off the line, we are getting them into the arms of Pennsylvanians,” he said.
Congressman Matt Cartwright, along with more than a dozen Democratic and Republican state lawmakers, is calling on Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency to set up mass public vaccination sites much like the testing sites set up in the early days of the pandemic.
“The faster we get COVID-19 vaccine into people’s arms the more lives we are going to save and the faster we get our economy moving again. Mass vaccination sites in Northeastern Pennsylvania would make a big difference,” Cartwright (D, 8th District) said.
Republican Tarah Toohil also supports the move.
“We need to get as many vaccines into arms as possible at once,” Toohil (R, 116th District) said. “So mass vaccination sites for teachers, industrial food workers industrial park workers that is how you reach as many people as possible at once. We need mass vaccination sites as quickly as possible.”
The I-Team reached out to the PA Department of Health for a response to these concerns. A spokesperson responded and the response is below:
“Community vaccination clinics have always been part of our plans. PEMA and DOH are actively working together on how to mobilize these clinics to supplement our existing provider network.
At this time, the commonwealth’s limited vaccine allotment does not allow for the execution of large-scale vaccination clinics, although our planning to support those events is ongoing so that we will be ready once the vaccine supply is sufficient to support it.
We know that there is significant interest among all Pennsylvanians about when they will get vaccinated. The Pennsylvania Department of Health is working to ensure that everyone who wants a COVID-19 vaccine can get it. We must have patience as the amount of vaccine available to Pennsylvanians is extremely limited.
To put it in perspective, it will take approximately 8 million doses of vaccine for the more than 4 million Pennsylvanians currently eligible to receive the vaccine (phase 1A). So far, Pennsylvania has received only about 4.1 million doses from the federal government. We must continue to focus on people in phase 1A.
To date, we have administered over 3 million vaccines to over 2 million Pennsylvanians.”