HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — The federal government is set to allocate more COVID vaccine doses to the commonwealth, but there are persistent questions about what seems to be a very sluggish rollout in Pennsylvania.
Pennsylvania has been receiving 140,000 doses a week for the first shot. That will increase starting next week to 160,000.
Through January 30, Pennsylvania has been allocated 1.8 million doses of vaccine. 1.3 million of those doses have been received.
That includes 930,150 first doses and 884,700 second doses allocated.
There have been 719,928 first doses and 173,328 second doses administered.
“Roughly only half of those have been put in people’s arms. That’s abysmal. That’s embarrassing and that’s a failure for the people of Pennsylvania,” said Jason Gottesman, House Republican Caucus spokesperson.
Pennsylvania ranks fifth in the nation for total doses given, currently 893,256. That’s divided up into first and second doses given, which the commonwealth ranks sixth in both.
In the federal pharmacy program, CVS reports 141,040 total doses administered (82,118 partially covered individuals and 29,461 fully covered individuals.)
Walgreens reports 20,654 total doses administered (16,698 partially covered individuals and 1,978 fully covered individuals.)
“Through our federal government is reporting and other sources are reporting that total number, but that total number isn’t the whole picture because for every one person it takes two doses of vaccine,” said April Hutcheson, communications director for the Pennsylvania Department of Health.
Hutcheson also pointed out that CDC data showing per 100,000 people isn’t a clear picture.
“Included in their rate per 100,000, are individuals not able to be vaccinated. That would include children 16 and under,” Hutcheson said.
Why have some areas gotten more vaccine than others?
Hutcheson says allocation has to do with the amount a provider’s already administered and what they have in storage.
“We also use a formula looking at the population, the population 65 and over, the percent positivity, and then the death rate with other factors,” Hutcheson said.
House Republicans want to put the National Guard in charge of developing infrastructure for vaccine deployment.
“It doesn’t require them to develop the vaccine or give the vaccine, but put somebody in charge who knows what it takes to do a multilateral coordinated effort to accomplish significant goals,” Gottesman said.
The Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency is already working on community vaccination clinics, but can’t do anything until more vaccines become available.
On Monday, House Republicans on the health committee will hold a three hour hearing with the Department of Health to provide oversight.