Outrage over vaccine shortage continues in Philadelphia suburbs: 'We want answers'

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- As Philadelphia begins vaccinating thousands of people a day, the surrounding counties are awaiting an explanation from the state on why they aren't receiving more doses.

"I had a lung transplant, and I have not been able to get the vaccine," said Mildred Gerhart of Hatfield, Montgomery County.

Because of her age and pre-existing health condition, Gerhart is in group 1a, but her doctor at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia is not able to administer the vaccine.

"I go to Penn, but because I'm not a resident of Philadelphia, she can't give it to me," Gerhart said.

Local officials say the four Philadelphia collar counties of Bucks, Chester, Delaware, and Montgomery have a shortage of vaccines.

SEE ALSO: Data shows Philadelphia suburbs being short-changed on COVID-19 vaccines
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An analysis by the Action News Data Team shows some of Philadelphia's suburban counties are being vastly short-changed on vaccines.

State and county lawmakers were set to have a virtual meeting with the Pennsylvania Health Department on that very issue Thursday, but it was rescheduled at the last minute.

Local representatives are demanding action.

"We want answers and we want action. We want the data that shows the shortage, and we don't just want to fix it going forward. We want to go back and have the missing doses come into Delaware, Chester and Montgomery counties," said State Representative Mike Zabel.

Almost 2-million Pennsylvanians have received the first or both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Late Thursday afternoon, the first doses of the Johnson and Johnson 1-dose vaccine were seen coming into Philadelphia. UPS workers loaded up trucks to deliver them out to health care systems across the city.

Governor Tom Wolf said the J&J vaccine will go to teachers statewide.

In the meantime, some of the suburbs' most at-risk residents are still waiting desperately for a shot in the arm.

"I feel like I registered everywhere there is to register," Gerhart said. "Every drug store there is available, every place I can think of, I registered. I've gotten nowhere. I'm very angry."

Gerhart had one question: "Why is this not available to more people?"

The Pennsylvania Department of Health released the following statement:

"The Department of Health is very much interested in providing full transparency on the doses of vaccine getting to residents in the counties surrounding Philadelphia. In order to do that we are thoroughly analyzing the myriad of data necessary to provide a full picture of the vaccine flow. We will be meeting with local leaders in the next few days to share that information."
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