State Encourages Providers Not To Schedule Appointments Until They've Gotten Shipments

Feb 22, 2021

The Pennsylvania Department of Health has order providers to administer 80% of first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine they receive within seven days. The directive comes after criticism of Pennsylvania’s slow vaccination rate.

Because providers get little advance notice as to how much vaccine they’ll receive week-to-week, health and science reporter Sarah Boden reports that Alexandria Lavella of Hilltop Pharmacy says the state’s mandate is a heavy lift. For example, she could plan a Sunday clinic to administer 1,000 doses, but it’s possible she might only receive enough vaccine for 200 people.

“Did you want me to schedule 1,000 people or schedule 200 people, and then play judge and juror, and drop 800 people?” Lavella said. “Or did you want me to not schedule?”

The Biden Administration says it is working to give more notice on how much vaccine is coming down the pike. Meanwhile the state is encouraging providers not to schedule vaccination appointments until they have received shipments. But Lavella says that’s a challenge too, because you can’t throw together a clinic overnight.

Pennsylvania received far fewer COVID-19 vaccine doses last week than in previous weeks. The state reports that it was shipped just over 16,000 doses.

Health and science reports Sarah Boden reports for every other week of 2021, Pennsylvania's weekly allotment exceeded 200,000 doses. These numbers exclude chain pharmacies, such as Giant Eagle, Rite Aid and CVS. Like other parts of the U.S., the Pennsylvania Department of Health says recent harsh weather has delayed vaccine delivery. 

The Allegheny County Health Department received 7,000  doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine Monday. Boden reports some of this shipment will be used for second-dose vaccination appointments.

Last week, the Pennsylvania Department of Health announced a temporary shortage of the Moderna vaccine, which will cause the administration of second doses for many Pennsylvanians to be delayed.

The county health department said it was one of the vaccine providers impacted by this statewide issue. Despite these additional doses, the county cautions there will still need to be adjustments in scheduling.

Gov. Tom Wolf is promoting a $3 billion proposal to rebuild the state’s economy by taxing fracking.

WHYY's Laura Benshoff reports Wolf says Back to Work PA, as the initiative is called, is necessary to rebuild the post-pandemic economy.

"Getting Pennsylvania back to work after the pandemic, means getting Pennsylvanians back to work quickly,” Wolf said. “It means investing in the businesses and workers that drive our economy. And it means developing sustainable solution to support the long-term economic recovery.”

The governor proposes paying for this by taking out a 20-year bond and then paying it off using revenues from a new fracking tax, called a severance tax. It's a part of his 2021-2022 budget proposal.

Wolf has tried to impose a severance tax a half dozen times during his tenure, which the Republican-led state legislature has never supported.

LATEST NUMBERS

Allegheny County over the past 48 hours:

  • 374 new cases
  • No new deaths
  • Total of 50,497 people fully vaccinated; 101,372 partially vaccinated

Pennsylvania over the past 48 hours:

  • 3,427 new cases
  • 44 new deaths
  • 1,959 patients hospitalized
  • 421 in intensive care units
  • Total of 541,091 people fully vaccinated; 917,150 partially vaccinated (not including people vaccinated at a clinic in Philadelphia or a federal facilty)