Pa. announces changes to COVID-19 vaccine rollout plan, calls on providers to make appointments by phone

WEST NORRITON, Pennsylvania (WPVI) -- Pennsylvania's acting secretary of health has announced changes to the commonwealth's current COVID-19 vaccine rollout strategy in the hopes of getting more shots into arms.

"We understand how frustrating it has been for many to get vaccinated," Alison Beam said Friday. "There is not enough vaccine for everyone who can get it right now."

Part of the state's new effort going forward includes a requirement that providers distribute 80% of their first doses within seven days of receiving them.

Beam also said the state would narrow its vaccine provider network from about 1,700 to some 200 to 300 providers that had demonstrated an ability to vaccinate people quickly. However, it wasn't made clear how it would improve vaccine distribution.

Other changes Beam announced: a requirement for appointment cards to ensure patients get their second dose.

Providers will also now be required to offer phone-based appointments in addition to online scheduling.

Beam also called for updated reporting on vaccine inventory and doses are given.

In spite of challenges, many inside and outside the Montgomery Community County College arena Friday paused to celebrate a major victory against the coronavirus.

"I do actually. I feel pretty good, I just got my second shot," said one vaccine recipient.
Each shot in the arm given means another resident that is now fully inoculated against the virus.

While it's clearly a win, Montgomery County has not been without its set of setbacks.

Last week, the county reported receiving only 1,000 doses of vaccine, which prompted the temporary closure of a clinic set up at Norristown Area High School.

The upside to that announcement was the delivery of 3,900 doses that made it possible for the clinic at the college to continue.

Montgomery County has also launched a multi-language COVID-19 hotline to help residents with questions about the virus and vaccine.

Bucks County has also expanded vaccination efforts. It is now set to receive an additional 3,000 doses on top of the 2,000 they've been receiving.

"Next week, starting Tuesday, is the rollout of the three sites we have, three community college campuses in Upper, Central, and Lower Bucks County," said Bucks County Commissioner Robert Harvie.

Officials also expect that by next week they'll be able to finalize vaccinating health care workers first responders.

In Delaware County, vaccine allotment has also been lacking.

County officials say with the right numbers, they will be ready to start mass vaccinations.

"We're looking forward to the point we have enough vaccine to do that," said Delaware County Commissioner Elaine Schaefer.
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