Dept. of Health under fire: Answers to PA’s vaccine rollout

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HARRISBURG, DAUPHIN COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) – Many say Pennsylvania’s rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine is anything but organized, partly blaming the state’s expansion of eligibility with a lack of vaccine supply.

“You put a bunch of individuals into one phase when we don’t have enough to vaccinate those people. You set this expectation that has failed the people of Pennsylvania,” said Rep. Meghan Schroeder (R) 29th District.

“When federal guidance came out that advised that hose over 65 and those 64 and under with specific comorbidities that the CDC has then issued guidance on should be added into Phase 1A, we adapted that guidance into our guidance as well,” said Alison Beam, Acting Secretary, Pennsylvania Department of Health.

Another concern raised centered on nursing home vaccinations.

“Was the governor telling the truth? ‘Nursing homes, 100% of the staff and residents who want the vaccine to get it. We brought it to them,” said Rep. John Lawrence (R) District 13.

“Yes. Through the Federal Pharmacy Partnership, we’ve been able to actually have 100% of the staff and residents who want the vaccine to get it. We brought it to them,” said Beam.

“We’re getting calls at my district office everyday from people who live in nursing homes who are desperate to get the shot and can’t even figure out how to sign up for one,” said Lawrence.

“You are right, the personal care homes and assisted care residences are still in progress. We’re working on our our first and second dose clinics. But we have completed 100% of those skilled nursing facilities,” said Beam.

Other lawmakers pointed to the confusion revolving around who can get the vaccine, and when and where they can get it.

“We need a more streamline process quite frankly. This is just creating chaos. We have people who are spending hours on different lines just to schedule an appointment only to be told there’s no appointments available. It’s contributing to a lack of equity in the way the vaccine is being distributed,” said Rep. Austin Davis (D) District 35.

“We’re open to those conversations. We have not seen a demonstrated technology yet that would be able to turn around as quickly as this vaccine requires of us and meets the needs of what folks are trying to really contemplate as an overarching umbrella of what the federal system, state system and the provider system and the interoperability that would require, but we’re not closing the door on it,” said Beam.

The state reports to date more than 3.1 million doses of vaccine have been allocated in Pennsylvania. 2.3 million of those doses were administered through Friday.

The meeting was streamed live and recorded.

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