Many frustrated at slow rollout of COVID vaccine, lack of appointments

Coronavirus in Pennsylvania

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — 3.5 million Pennsylvanians are eligible to get a COVID vaccine in phase 1A but demand is far greater than the current supply.

New Cumberland resident Gail Reynolds was elated when she found out she could get the vaccine. Her doctor recommended it since she’s 72 and on chemotherapy for metastatic breast cancer.

“This week is my off week and she said if I get the vaccine she said she would prefer if I get it this week, but I cannot find it anywhere,” Reynolds said.

Since Tuesday’s announcement, health systems and pharmacies have been bombarded by patients.

“A local pharmacy here in the greater Hershey area is receiving five to six calls per minute, another one to two emails per minute, and in 18 hours, had 3,000 requests for the vaccine,” said Victoria Elliott, CEO of the Pennsylvania Pharmacists Association.

Pharmacies were prepared to meet the demand as it was initially outlined, but Elliott says lack of communication from the state has been frustrating.

“The biggest challenge we’re seeing is 1. supply and then 2. Consumers thinking that because they’re in these expanded categories that all a sudden they can access vaccine,” Elliott said.

WellSpan Health has filled all its appointments, as has Weis pharmacies just to name two.

“I’m able to go out and search things and Google things myself, but if you’re not able to that, you’re just out of luck,” Reynolds said.

The Pa. Department of Health is asking everyone to be patient, saying the allotment of vaccine doses from the federal government is not increasing at this time.

I realize everyone is trying to get the same thing but the information is really lacking,” Reynolds said. “I’ll just keep trying. That’s all I can say.”

Some places aren’t registering any new patients, while others have started a wait list.

“Our community pharmacies that are enrolled as providers, whether or not they’ve received vaccine, they are prepared,” Elliott said.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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