By Stephanie Stahl

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — There’s growing frustration about the fractured COVID-19 vaccine rollout as we continue to deal with the pandemic. Thousands of shots are being given in the Philadelphia region every day, but it’s not enough.

Supplies aren’t keeping up with demand, leaving people scrambling.

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Some local health officials say the feds should have never expanded the recommendation on vaccinations to include millions of additional people because there aren’t enough doses to cover even the first phase. It’s left many waiting and worrying.

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Getting the vaccine is like hitting the lottery — it’s rare and finding an appointment is complicated and confusing.

“It’s just a mess,” Bette Woolsey said.

Bette and John Woolsey have spent countless hours searching for a vaccine appointment and still don’t have one.

“I’m upset, yeah,” she said. “I want to be able to go for a walk freely.”

Without a centralized system, people who are eligible for vaccine have to maneuver through a variety of websites. Most just offer registrations and those with appointments, like Rite Aid, are booked.

“In other words, everybody’s scrambling around a maze,” Woolsey said.

The first doses were earmarked to high priority groups, but many found ways to get vaccinated out of turn. Adding to the confusion, Philadelphia has different rules and the recent federal expansion to include people over 65 and those with medical conditions, is straining a system that’s already overwhelmed.

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“It really did seem at the federal level that the right hand didn’t know what the left was doing,” said Montgomery County Commissioners Chair Dr. Valerie Arkoosh.

Dr. Arkoosh says they’re scrambling to follow the federal and state mandate to expand coverage that didn’t come with additional vaccine.

“I feel terrible about how confusing this has been,” Dr. Arkoosh said.

However, some are getting lucky. A mass vaccination site was open to Philadelphia school nurses in the first step in getting schools reopened.

“We have limited doses of vaccine in the city, we have a very small amount, and we try to target groups of people who have the highest need,” said Dr. Caroline Johnson.

Officials say many people will probably be waiting for months to get vaccinated, so the precautions of masks and social distancing will remain as important as ever.


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Stephanie Stahl