The state is cutting out smaller pharmacies in exchange for providers who can move the vaccine more quickly and more efficiently.By Andy Sheehan

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Hoping to get the coronavirus vaccine into the arms of more Pennsylvanians, the state is drastically reducing the number of providers who can administer it, turning instead to healthcare giants like UPMC and the Allegheny Health Network, which have been holding mass clinics like one at PNC Park.

“Our last one, we got the ultimate compliment. Several people said it was as efficient or even more efficient than Chick-fil-A,” Said Dr. Donald Whiting with Allegheny Health Network.

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The state Health Department is reducing the number of providers from 780 statewide to just 200 to 300 outlets, delivering the vaccine primarily to hospitals, clinics and some pharmacies. They’ll primarily rely on the hospitals, which have the staffing, the expertise and the capacity to vaccinate large numbers of people quickly and safely.

“I believe that the hospitals and the healthcare system can more efficiently get it out in the present situation,” Whiting said.

The state says it will retain the pharmacies which have demonstrated an ability to vaccinate large numbers of people. And Adam Rice of Spartan Pharmacy breathed a sigh of relief knowing the state is coming through with a large order this week and he will not have to cancel second doses for 3,000 people.

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“Very relieved. We were putting down a minor unrest with the customers,” he said.

While the state still struggles with a lack of a centralized registry, reducing the number of providers will cut down in some of the shopping around for a vaccine. But, Rice believes Spartan will fit the state’s new criteria as a high performer.

“We hope that bodes well with us,” Rice said.

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UPMC and AHN have begun vaccinating members of the general public, but as we’ve been telling you, the problem is supply. AHN will vaccinate 2,500 people this weekend at PNC Park, but those shots are already spoken for.