Doctors, Pa. Senators question state vaccine rollout

Coronavirus in Pennsylvania

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — Pennsylvania’s vaccine rollout continues to lag behind most other states. Lawmakers sought answers on Thursday, answers that healthcare providers would like to know, too.

Harry and Raj Sahi are primary care physicians who have seen the worst of the pandemic.

They’ve cared for elderly patients and witnessed patients pass away from COVID-19.

The Sahi’s didn’t get many doses of the vaccine. They gave out all 100 doses they received and are worried because the Pa. Department of Health isn’t saying when more will be on the way.

“The patients vaccinated are nervous, are they gonna get their second dose in?” Dr. Raj Sahi asked.

A good question, too. There are lots of questions about the state’s vaccine rollout and Senators want answers.

“New York and Ohio, our neighbors, have vaccinated 20,000 more nursing home patients than Pennsylvania. Why are we lagging behind those other states?” Senator John Yudichak (I-Luzerne, Carbon) asked.

Senator David Argall (R-Schuylkill, Berks) is wondering the same thing.

“Why is it that Pennsylvania seems to be falling behind places like West Virginia and North Dakota?” Argall asked.

Senator Maria Collett (D-Montgomery, Bucks) wonders why individuals who don’t appear to be in the first phase of the Pa. COVID vaccination plan are getting vaccinated before those who are eligible.

“I know of a healthy 49-year-old man with no underlying conditions, who is not in 1a, who waltzed into a pharmacy and was able to get one … that is deeply disturbing to me,” Collett said.

Both sides of the aisle appear to be on the same page. Senator Judy Ward (R-Blair, Cumberland, Franklin, Fulton, Huntingdon) is concerned for high-risk Pennsylvanians who are in need of the COVID vaccine.

“I’m concerned about the lack of urgency and availability for patients with rare diseases and compromised immune systems,” Ward said.

Acting Health Secretary Alison Beam has been on the job a few weeks, has promised more transparency and accountability, and repeated the company line.

“Right now we are facing a challenge of such demand with such limited supply,” Beam said.

Dr. Sahi chose her words carefully not wanting to offend, but did say this.

“There’s a lot of room for improvement,” Dr. Raj Sahi said.

The Governor agrees. At a different press conference, he was asked about vaccine rollout and said three times we need to do better. 

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