Fitzgerald on COVID-19 vaccine distribution in Allegheny County: 'We're making progress'

The rollout for the COVID-19 vaccine throughout the state has been slow, but County Executive Rich Fitzgerald told the KDKA Radio Morning Show, "We're making progress," when it comes to distributing it in Allegheny County.

"I think some people want to see it faster, I certainly do," he said. "We're seeing more and more delivery. Slightly more every week, coming in."

In the county more than 200,000 injections of the vaccine have been administered.

Fitzgerald says the Allegheny County Health Department only gets about 10% of the vaccines that are actually delivered to Allegheny County. "About two-thirds of it, 55%, is administered through our great healthcare facilities - UPMC, AHN, St. Clair and Heritage Valley. Another 15-17% is done by the pharmacies, big and small. The county health department, at the two sites they've set up in Monroeville and Castle Shannon, gets about 10% of that.

Supply of the vaccines, or lack there of, has been an ongoing issue for Pennsylvania and other states, but this week the winter storms have also impacted the distribution of the vaccines.

The Pennsylvania Department of Health on Thursday said the state is working with shipping partners to resume shipments as quickly as possible, but there will still be a backlog of orders for both the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines, which may impact schedule appointments for vaccination.

On Friday, the CDC alerted the state to expect more delays.

“Weather this week has been challenging in terms of getting vaccine delivered from manufacturers directly to vaccine providers in Pennsylvania and across the country,” said Acting Secretary of Health Alison Beam. “As we have been emphasizing, we are working with our vaccine providers to ensure they are aware of the shipment delays as they continue to be in contact with people who have scheduled appointments to reschedule so that people are assured their vaccine.

“It’s too early to know which vaccine providers are being affected by these weather-related delays. We know that the federal government is working with manufacturers and we know that local vaccine providers will be ready when the shipments do get through. Unfortunately, weather delays will impact the ability to get vaccine into arms and providers are working to reschedule appointments as necessary.”

Department of Health Senior Advisor for COVID-19 Response Lindsey Mauldin says residents should call ahead before traveling for an appointment to be sure the shot is still available.

In addition to the weather, the state revealed that there was a mix-up in the administration of doses of the Moderna vaccine as some providers accidentally gave out the wrong shots.

"We discovered some providers inadvertently used the Moderna vaccine shipped to them intended as second doses, as first doses," said Department of Health Acting Secretary Alison Beam.

Last week, Governor Tom Wolf acknowledged the need for Pennsylvania to do better with the vaccine rollout.