WESTMORELAND COUNTY (KDKA) — The Pennsylvania Department of Health says it is going to reduce the number of pharmacies distributing the COVID-19 vaccine.
Harrisburg says doses will now go to pharmacies that they claim have proven more efficient at getting shots in arms. That’s not sitting well with some.
The state says in the long run, the new plan will actually get more people vaccinated. But one small town pharmacist told KDKA the plan treats people she serves like second-class citizens.
It was a busy day at roadway pharmacy the small Westmoreland County town of Seward.
The store lined with chairs as pharmacist Brittany Miller administered doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. One day after the state Department of Health told her and hundreds of other small pharmacies they won’t be seeing any more doses any time soon.
“We get this email and now we’re getting cut off because we didn’t do enough,” Miller said.
More than 1,000 locations had been getting the vaccine. That number is down to just over 300.
“It just tells me we’re not important enough in small rural areas to get the vaccine,” Miller said.
The state tells those off the list “in the near term, we are asking that you stand by as we temporarily focus allocations on other providers amid limited supply. You should not expect the first doses or receive additional first doses over the next several weeks…we look forward to the day when we can distribute the vaccine to all of our providers.”
Harrisburg saying the 300 still on the list have done a better job of getting people vaccinated.
“Essentially put us on a report card they were like well you just didn’t do enough. Well, they didn’t give us anyhow can we not do enough when you’re not giving us the vaccine to do it?” Miller said.
“I think it’s just ridiculous,” said Alice White.
Alice White got her first shot today. White tells KDKA some seniors and those vulnerable living in rural area may not have access to pharmacies deemed worthy for more vaccines.
“It is counterintuitive, and you’re putting people at risk,” said White.
“You’re restricting the vaccine to a handful of pharmacies and not giving it to small ones that are involved in the community,” said Tom Wynkoop.
Tom Wynkoop who’s a nurse and has helped administer COVID-19 vaccines at roadway says was well-intentioned as it may be is the epitome of inequity.
“There are hundreds of people here that want the vaccine and need it,” said Wynkoop. “You give it to everybody, or you don’t give it out at all.”
Brittany Miller told KDKA the state will get all pharmacies the second doses in the 42 day window. She says she’ll believe it when she sees it.