Trouble getting a booster shot in the Midstate? Try going rogue – or at least, independent

Vaccinate PA

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — We’re not back to where things were in early 2021 when demand for vaccines vastly exceeded availability. But for the first time since shortly after all Pennsylvanian adults became eligible for vaccines in April, you can no longer take for granted getting a shot with little or no notice.

Nearly all Midstate chain pharmacies were booked solid for the next week, and in some cases two weeks, according to an abc27 review of vaccine availability.

Results of searches on the federal site correctly noted that, but the site also didn’t indicate availability at independent pharmacies that did, in fact, have appointments.

Among them: Harrisburg Pharmacy, with (in advance of this article being posted, anyway…) widespread availability visible online and Lion Pharmacy in Red Lion, where owner and pharmacist Bethany Miller said demand has indeed surged — but where (as of Monday afternoon) appointments were still available most days. Since this story first aired on TV, viewers have called and texted with similar success obtaining appointments at other independent pharmacies.

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Miller said the vaccine demand surge is almost certainly because of the omicron variant.

“Before we even had [confirmed omicron cases] in the United States, we started seeing an uptick” in vaccine demand, Miller said. “And then after they found it in the United States, we’ve seen a lot more.”

She said she’s been administering more boosters than first-time doses — but a fair number of first-time doses too.

“People want to be able to get together for the holidays,” Miller said. “They want to be able to go to their parties for work. They want to go see their families. And they don’t want to take a chance on infecting them.”

She said whether or not omicron turns out to be as transmissible or severe as feared, one thing is clear: “We were hoping delta would be the last [variant], but obviously it’s not.”

Another reason some initially-hesitant people have decided to get vaxxed? “When you start hearing more about the long-haulers and what’s going on, I think people are concerned,” Miller said.

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