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'No shows' becoming a problem at vaccine clinics as COVID-19 cases in PA remain among highest in nation

Vaccine providers remind everyone to cancel if they can't make it to their appointments in order to make sure no vaccine is wasted as PA COVID-19 cases surge.

As Pennsylvania's COVID-19 cases remain among the highest in the nation, vaccine providers are facing a new problem in the pandemic: people not showing up for their vaccination appointments. 

Jeanette Gibbs, senior vice president for ambulatory services at Penn State Health, said it's unclear what's causing people to not show up: whether it's the fact that patients made multiple appointments and forgot to cancel, were confused on where to go, or simply couldn't get there. But with Pennsylvania's coronavirus cases staying among the highest in the country, the state is sending a renewed call for everyone to sign up and show up for their shots.  

"The issue right now is we're in a race. It's a race between the vaccine and the upsurge, the fourth upsurge," said Governor Tom Wolf who claimed he would also sign up to get a vaccine when everyone becomes eligible in Pennsylvania on April 19.

Meantime, Gibbs said when people don't show up for their appointments health officials are forced to kick into overdrive to call people who have signed up for waiting lists in order to not throw vaccine out. She noted this can keep healthcare workers on the clock late into the night and create a real problem for patients who must rearrange schedules after getting a surprise call to come get their shot. 

"It's really hard for our teams to be able to do it but most importantly it's not convenient for the patients and community members," she said as she urged people to remember to cancel when they will not make it to their appointments. 

Penn State Health said it has a number of appointments available at its vaccination sites and it is encouraging everyone to register on their site regardless of eligibility in order to get on the waiting lists early.

"As we get through the problem of too little supply and too much demand, we're going to be facing the reverse problem. That is, that we want to increase demand to make sure everybody's getting it," said Governor Wolf.

Pennsylvania is currently in Phase 1b of the vaccination rollout with Phase 1c opening on Monday.