PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Some vaccine distributors have spent the past few days sifting through full voicemail boxes and rebooting crashing websites after the Pennsylvania Department of Health unexpectedly expanded Phase 1A of the vaccination plan.
The phase now includes people 65 years and older, as well as people 16 to 64 with high-risk conditions.READ MORE: Port Authority Holds Public Meetings On Mon Valley Transit Upgrades
It appears the announcement prompted the new additions to Phase 1A to seek out a vaccine at their local distributors.
Jeff Wilson, the owner of Wilson’s Pharmacy in Bloomfield, said he didn’t know about the announcement ahead of time and was bombarded with calls.
“This morning, I walked in, “he said, “our answering machine was full. Three lines were just ringing off the hook.”
While more Pennsylvanians are looking for the first available vaccine, Wilson said he ran out of his supply on Wednesday.
He added while his store has received a steady supply of vaccines and consistent communication from the state, the last week has been frustrating.
“Towards the end of last week, I asked for 1,000 doses and they couldn’t give me any kind of answer,” Wilson said of his conversation with the state. “We were really putting the pressure on. Yesterday was really upsetting, but we finally realized we’re not going to get it.”READ MORE: COVID-19 In Pittsburgh: Allegheny County Reports 849 New Cases
Wilson is hopeful for another round of doses to vaccinate the people on his store’s waiting list.
While his phones were ringing constantly on Tuesday and Wednesday, the website for Spartan Pharmacy in Brentwood crashed due to all the people logging on to sign up for a vaccine.
- COVID-19 In Pennsylvania: Using Interactive Map To Find Available Vaccines Becoming Troublesome For Pennsylvanians
- COVID-19 In Pennsylvania: Phase 1A Of Vaccine Plan Expanded To Anyone Over 65 And Others With Serious Medical Conditions
- COVID-19 In Pennsylvania: Health Care Workers In Underserved Communities Get Vaccine To Build Trust
Spartan Pharmacy Manager Rob Obringer said he wasn’t aware of the announcement ahead of time. Now there are thousands of people on the pharmacy’s waiting list before it even receives its first shipment of the vaccine, which is expected by the end of the week.
“We were bombarded with phone calls before we even knew that the rules had changed,” he said.
He and Wilson both say more transparency from the state about changes in the vaccine distribution plan or supply would go a long way.
“If they’d just come out and say, ‘Hey, we’re running short’ or ‘We’re going to have more next week,’ then we can tell people,” Wilson said. “People are just so frustrated.”MORE NEWS: Tame Impala Announces Pittsburgh Tour Stop
As it pertains to the now 3.5 million Pennsylvanians in Phase 1A, the Pennsylvania Department of Health said Tuesday that it realizes it will be a challenge to vaccinate all those people quickly because the department has not received additional doses.