Pa. health officials: No formula for how COVID-19 vaccine is divided up in the state

75756A5E-120A-4932-810C-2FD980DB785E

UPDATED: 7 p.m.

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — There is a lot of confusion over how the COVID-19 vaccine is being allotted in Pennsylvania. But the Pennsylvania Department of Health has finally responded to a series of questions to try to clarify the process after four days.

The federal government controls how much each state gets, but it’s up to the state health department to divide it up within the state.

Health department spokeswoman April Hutcheson says there isn’t a formula to determine how much vaccine should be sent where.

Instead, she says, it’s based on requests from pharmacies or health care providers, looking at how many vaccines the provider already has on hand and how many they’ve administered.

Private pharmacies fill out a form on the Department of Health’s website and undergo a review process. Hutcheson says acceptance is based on the information they provide.

Hutcheson did not answer a specific question about whether certain data is taken into account when allocating vaccines, such as the number of health care workers in a county, or people over 65.

But she says county totals can’t be compared apples to apples because some of the larger health systems in more rural areas are getting a higher allotment that she says will cross county lines.

Philadelphia does not get its vaccine allotment through Pennsylvania — it gets it directly from the federal government because it’s one of the largest cities in the country.

The CDC ranks Pennsylvania 41st in the percentage of vaccine that’s been administered compared to how much has been sent.

Pa. health officials say those figures are affected by reporting delays and some challenges in scheduling the shots. And Pennsylvania is not unique in its demand for the vaccine, which is far outpacing supply across the country.

EDITOR'S NOTE: The Pennsylvania Department of Health responded to reporter questions after KYW Newsradio aired and published a story about the ongoing lack of response.