Wolf says "not just to point fingers," but the distribution and supply of COVID-19 vaccines are controlled by the federal government.By Andy Sheehan

HARRISBURG (KDKA) – Conceding to criticism Pennsylvania’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout has been slow and troubled, Gov. Tom Wolf vowed to do better. While he complained about a lack of supply from the feds, the governor noted Pennsylvania is in the middle of the pack nationwide, having administered only 50 percent of the 1.5 million doses it’s received.

“We recognize that we need to do a better job. I hate being in the middle of any pack. I want to be at the top of the pack,” Wolf said Tuesday at a virtual press conference.

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Unlike other states which have employed the National Guard and have already opened mass distribution clinics, Pennsylvania has delegated distribution to health care systems and a smattering of small, independent pharmacies like Wilson’s in Bloomfield, which have been overwhelmed by demand.

“The first Saturday, they were lined up at the door and around the block. And we ran out and there were still people in line. We had to let them know we weren’t going to have it,” said the pharmacist Jeff Wilson.

Unlike those other states, Pennsylvania has no central registry to schedule vaccinations, forcing people to shop around and get on wait lists at different outlets. Acting Health Secretary Alison Beam defended the system as one of local control, saying the problem is just a lack of vaccine.

“The demand for vaccine far outweighs the supply but we will catch up. We must be patient,” Beam said.

But Wolf contradicted her and said establishing a statewide registry is now on the table.

“If the registration system is something that might get us there, we’ll certainly give that serious consideration,” he said.

Wolf says the state needs 8 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to give shots to Pennsylvanians in the first priority group. The state has only received 1.5 million.

He says the Trump administration asked states to expand the guidelines for who could get the vaccine first but the national stockpile was depleted.

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Wolf said “not just to point fingers,” but the distribution of vaccines, especially from the supply side, is controlled by the federal government.

“We thought that meant that went we went to 65 and older from 75 and older — which greatly expanded the range of 1A recipients — that the supply would also be expanded. Well, that was wrong. They weren’t expanded,” he said.

“In fact, it turned out there was no stockpile that was going to be thrown open to the market. So it’s been frustrating and disappointing because we’ve all relied on the federal government during this process to make sure that we have the vaccines.”

He said the state didn’t think about waiting until it had enough supply of the vaccine before expanding eligibility.

“We wanted to make sure that we were getting people — and we still — the idea is to get people in line in terms of the need,” said Wolf.

Wolf, a Democrat, expressed hope for the Biden administration.

So far, Wolf says Pennsylvania has received 1.5 million vaccines, which is enough to fully vaccinate 750,000 people. In the expanded Phase 1A, there are now 4 million Pennsylvanians who need to be vaccinated.

“We have a lot of work to do. We want to do a much better job than we’re doing and we’ll continue to improve this process. But again we do have some constraints that we’re all working under, that all make it necessary for us to make sure that we’re managing our expectations given the reality that we have far less supply than we hoped we would have at this point,” he said.

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The state is getting 143,000 doses this week. It’s not nearly enough to fill the demand, but the governor wants the distributionsystem clicking when more supplies come in.