COVID-19 1A vaccinations stalled in PA hospitals due to shortage of supplies

Coronavirus

CENTRE COUNTY, Pa. (WTAJ) — Hospitals across the region are eligible to provide COVID-19 vaccinations to those who fall under Phase 1A; however, many are experiencing the same setback: a shortage of supplies.

“The state gets its vaccine from the federal government, and then the state distributes vaccines to organizations like Mount Nittany Health or others who are providing the vaccinations,” says Tom Charles, executive vice president at Mount Nittany Health.

Requests for COVID-19 vaccinations have been placed by Mount Nittany Health, Penn Highlands Healthcare, and UPMC, but at this time there’s no confirmation on when they’ll receive their full request of doses for those in Phase 1A.

“We are not getting everything that we request from the state and that’s understandable, there’s simply far, far more demand for this right now than there is available vaccine,” says Charles.

About 3,400 healthcare workers across Centre County have been vaccinated by Mount Nittany since late December. They are currently waiting on their next shipment from the Department of Health, and when the vaccines are available, they’ll begin scheduling appointments on their website.

They say this self-scheduling system may be open by Friday, January 29, for appointments starting the first week of February. Mount Nittany Health also has a dedicated COVID-19 hotline (814-231-7111) available daily from 7AM to 11PM.

UPMC says they’re following a similar model.

“If we do receive the supply, we are more than willing to start scheduling those individuals,” says Dr. David Burwell, chief quality officer at UPMC.

Dr. Burwell says they’re taking requests from those in Phase 1A, but only scheduling those who are in their highest prioritization, such as health care workers. So far, UPMC has vaccinated 5,400 employees… the highest number of vaccinations from a Pennsylvania provider.

He says this model prevents the hospital from promising any vaccinations they do not have.

“If we even knew of the supplies coming and we could plan for that, we would be more than willing to do that. We have not seen that recently and we don’t have that on the horizon,” says Dr. Burwell.

Penn Highlands Healthcare has vaccinated 70% of their workforce. Now, they say they’re focusing on vaccinating those 75 and older and are scheduling one week at a time.

If you fall in that category, Penn Highlands says you should be contacted by your primary care physician for scheduling.

“In the meantime, we need to ask everyone to help us move through this process, while waiting patiently as we vaccinate the approximately 15,075 plus individuals in our service area, until we have the vaccine supplies from the state available to open vaccination to additional groups,” says Mark Norman, chief operating officer for Penn Highlands Healthcare.

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