Frustration over Pa. COVID-19 vaccine rollout grows

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — There is widespread confusion from providers, elected leaders and county health officials regarding changes to the COVID-19 vaccine allocation.

Bucks County state Rep. Tina Davis says she was infuriated when she found the state was yanking vaccine from two hospitals in her district, which she says is about 40% seniors.

"A lot of these people, they don’t even drive. To get to the mass vaccination center, it would take two hours using public transportation," she said.

Bucks County Commissioner Bob Harvie says Lower Bucks Hospital is among those being dropped from the list.

"Lower Bucks was working on a program with some of the churches in the area and the NAACP," Harvie said.

He says the county is giving part of their allocation to make sure those projects continue.

Village Pharmacy at Springhouse manager John McVan said, one week the Department of Health is telling them to schedule all 10,000 people on their waiting list, "and then, last week, they tell us, 'Sorry, you can’t do anymore first doses.' And I asked, 'Am I supposed to cancel everything I booked already?' and they didn’t answer that question."

Chester County Health Director Jeanne Franklin says providers who are getting dropped are asking the county what to do with their waiting lists.

"Ideally those are the lists that PEMA would take on as they bring on the mass site. Instead, they’re wanting the (Chester County) health department’s list," Franklin said.

There’s confusion with those PEMA sites as Pennsylvania isn’t getting as much Johnson & Johnson vaccine as expected. The Department of Health says that won’t affect the mass vaccination clinics they’re planning on setting up. But PEMA says they’ll have to rely on the federal pharmacy partnership, rather than the clinics, to vaccinate essential workers.

Legislation that would force the state's Department of Health to use the county health departments passed the state house yesterday. But the earliest it could clear the state Senate is late April, and it could be further delayed depending on what the governor does when it gets to his desk.