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How can Pennsylvania speed up the COVID-19 vaccine rollout? Pressure mounts as frustration rises

Pennsylvania lawmakers continue to grill state health leaders on what is causing delays and frustration in the COVID-19 rollout

Frustration continues across Pennsylvania as up to 4 million people are currently eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine, yet the state has only received nearly 2.9 million doses of the shot according to the CDC.

On Monday it was democratic lawmakers turn to question Pennsylvania's Department of Health about the rollout. Many asked why the state has not yet unveiled a central system to sign up for the vaccine rather than making people wade through dozens of dots on a statewide map to find a vaccine provider. 

Lawmakers report receiving complaints that the process can take 'days' with many still unable to find an appointment to get the shot. 

Democrat PA Rep.Chris Sainato noted many of his constituents have expressed a desire to have one centralized waiting list adding "I've hard constituents, even if they have to wait a month, at least they're on the list and they know they have a shot."

Sainato also questioned why Pennsylvania decided to follow guidance from the Trump administration to open the vaccinations to 65 and older if state leaders knew Pennsylvania was not receiving enough doses at this point to accommodate that many people.

 "The Trump administration did change their guidance and that ultimate decision was either made by Secretary Levine or the Governor. I have to admit I'm not sure who made that final decision, but it would have been made at those levels, said Keara Klinepeter, Executive Deputy Secretary of the PA Dept of Health. 

Lawmakers also questioned the PA Dept. of Health about the web-based system to make an appointment as many seniors who need the shot do not have computers or the know-how to operate the detailed website. 

Klinepeter noted the PA Dept of Health has heard the frustrations and is working to make the system better. She also noted there are phone numbers people can call for help to schedule vaccinations.

- Contact the Pennsylvania Department of Health hotline with questions: 


- Find help from your local county aging agency. Find your local area agency on aging here or by calling: 


Klinepeter said the Biden administration is expected to bring more consistency to the vaccination rollout which could help ease and speed up the process, adding the new Presidential administration has seemed to mark a 'shift' in how distribution is handled.

 "And, that type of consistency is so important because to date there would be weeks where we'd be told our allocation would be one amount or that would change sometimes two or three times," she said. 

Klinepeter said 166,375 vaccinations were allocated to Pennsylvania last week. This week, she said the state will receive 175,175 first doses. She said the Biden administration has also promised to send that same number of doses to the state for the next 3 weeks.

The Pennsylvania Department of Health is focused on two current missions which includes a federal partnership program to bring the vaccine to long-term care facilities. The second mission is a community mission to bring the vaccine to retail pharmacies.

Distribution is decided utilizing 4 factors, Klinepeter said: 1) county population 2) county population over 65 3) total COVID-19 cases 4) total COVID-19 deaths. Vaccinations are shipped Monday-Friday with the exclusion of holidays.


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