x
Breaking News
More () »

WPMT FOX43 | News in Harrisburg, York, Lancaster, Lebanon News, Weather, Sports

New rules roll out Friday. But, are COVID-19 vaccine providers in Pa. ready for them?

Providers are rushing to roll out websites and phone lines for appointments as they also prepare for new ways to distribute doses.

PENNSYLVANIA, USA — Vaccine providers are running under a tight deadline as Pennsylvania leaders announced new rules for the COVID-19 vaccine distribution that must be put into place by Friday.

Among the rules: 

  • Vaccine providers must have both an online and a phone-based registration system for direct appointment scheduling.
  • At a minimum, vaccine providers must administer 80 percent of their first doses of vaccine received within seven days of receipt of those doses.   
  • Vaccine providers giving a two-dose vaccine shall provide the COVID-19 vaccine reminder card with a date for a return appointment for the second dose of vaccine.  
  • Vaccine providers giving a two-dose vaccine must make every appropriate effort to ensure available appointments for second doses

RELATED: State issues guidelines for COVID-19 vaccine providers

Dr. Peter Dillon of Penn State Health said he believed the state's new rules would 'accelerate' their operations. He said the health care system was already planning an expansion into March on its vaccine distribution.  

"We had been working down in Lancaster County for example with the other health systems to set up a joint mass vaccination process in anticipation of this," he said.

Dr. Dillon also noted that giving vaccine providers a week to organize a phone line and website to schedule COVID-19 vaccinations could also cause issues for some providers. He said Penn State Health is actively working to develop its own technology to provide not only for calls and online inquiries but also for queuing and scheduling appointments. He noted one of the major issues is the number of people who will be utilizing the phone lines and website.

"We do have concerns that the demand will be so high that systems could crash," he said.

Haresh Malaviya of Medical Arts Pharmacy in Carlisle added he too believes mass immunizations are needed as he said there are still not enough providers in Pennsylvania. However, he noted there is also not enough vaccine. 

"Roughly we're getting anywhere between 200 to 400 shots a week," said Malaviya. However, he said the facility is receiving nearly 1,000 requests for vaccines in that same time period. "We get roughly five times more requests than the vaccine we're getting."

Malaviya said Medical Arts Pharmacy is already following much of the rules that the state laid out on Friday so he didn't anticipate the deadline to have much effect on their day-to-day operations. 

As doses ramp up, Pennsylvania leaders meantime have issued a promise to vaccine providers that second doses would be guaranteed.  When FOX43 asked Malaviya and Dr. Dillon if they were concerned about receiving second doses, Dr. Dillon said "we are concerned but we got a good working relationship with the Department of Health. They have reiterated to us that they will be backing us up on doses and supply and we're proceeding with that expectation"

"So far Pennsylvania is doing really good at providing the second shot to everyone, so we haven't noticed any issue," added Malaviya. 

Read the full rules released by the PA Dept. of State here:

  • At a minimum, vaccine providers must administer 80 percent of their first doses of vaccine received within seven days of receipt of those doses.   
  • Vaccine providers must follow all requirements and recommendations in the COVID-19 Interim Vaccination Plan.
  • Vaccine providers must adhere to the current phase of Pennsylvania’s vaccine rollout, as defined by the department
  • Vaccine providers giving a two-dose vaccine shall provide the COVID-19 vaccine reminder card with a date for a return appointment for the second dose of vaccine.  
  • Vaccine providers giving a two-dose vaccine must make every appropriate effort to ensure available appointments for second doses, including, but not limited to, designating appointment times for second doses or scheduling second doses at the time of first dose administration, or both. 
  • Vaccine providers must have both an online and a phone-based registration system for direct appointment scheduling. Information on these systems must be made available to the department so it can be posted online.