Pa. makes some changes in hopes of speeding up struggling vaccine distribution system

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Pennsylvania continues to rank near the bottom in how quickly it is administering its allotment of the COVID-19 vaccine. The Wolf administration is announcing changes they hope will speed it up.

Acting Pennsylvania Health Secretary Alison Beam said among the new requirements — vaccine providers must administer 80% of the first doses they are allocated within seven days of receiving it.

“If vaccine providers fail to comply with the terms of the order, they may temporarily have their allocation of first doses reduced,” Beam said.

She said they will continue to guarantee second doses for all providers.

While the state Department of Health had been pushing a more community-centric model, Beam said they’re whittling down the number of providers.

Over the past couple weeks, that number had grown to nearly 600, but the new plan will limit it to between 200 to 300.

There have been calls for a centralized registration system to make it easier to find an appointment, but Beam said they’re sticking with the current system.

“There are providers that have invested in their own technology, their own scheduling systems, their own operability with their existing electronic health record system has been key to them,” she said.

Providers will be required to have a staffed phone line to schedule appointments for people who can’t navigate a website.

It’s unclear how that might affect the smaller pharmacies, which the department had been saying was key to their model.