PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — There are growing frustrations with COVID-19 vaccine issues around Pennsylvania, while Montgomery County is reporting a potential outbreak of the U.K. COVID variant. It’s difficult to test for the variant, but officials have been saying the mutation from the United Kingdom is probably widespread.
That’s a big concern because it spreads more easily.READ MORE: 'A Game Changer': CDC Recommends Johnson & Johnson's 1-Dose COVID Vaccine, Paving Way For Distribution To Begin
Montgomery County is reporting four cases of the COVID U.K. Variant, which is more contagious than the original strain. The individuals all had mild cases and no history of travel.
Contact tracing shows the mutation appears to be spreading.
“We have confirmed additional cases linked to some of these individuals, therefore, there are additional COVID cases we consider probable for the variant strain,” Montgomery County Commissioners Chair Dr. Valerie Arkoosh said. “All of this signals to us the variant is likely much more widespread within in the community than can be confirmed through lab testing.”
Montgomery County also closed a mass vaccination clinic for first doses at Norristown High School for the rest of the week because of a vaccine shortage.
“Our centers, no matter who they are or where they are, we don’t have a reliable supply of vaccines,” Dr. Rob Danoff said.
Danoff oversees the covid vaccination center at Jefferson Northeast — Bucks Campus. He says this is a problem that may continue to happen until clinics receive a reliable number of vaccines to expect each week.
“When are we getting our vaccines? Are we getting it Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday whatever day and how many doses are we getting?” Danoff said.
The county is also working to stop people from sharing vaccine registration links that enable people to jump the line.READ MORE: Irv Cross, Former Eagles Star DB And Pioneer Black Analyst, Dies At 81
“This is not ethical or moral and it needs to stop given scarcity of vaccine,” Arkoosh said. “We need to pull together as a community and make sure the most vulnerable get vaccinated first.”
Vaccine distribution around Pennsylvania is a hodgepodge of confusion, with a variety of sites and providers. In a press briefing, officials continue to blame supply shortages.
“Pennsylvania chose that local vaccine provider network because we know people have trust in their local providers and so we want to keep that trust,” said Barry Ciccocioppo, the health department’s COVID-19 press secretary.
Those providers are places like Rite Aid and other pharmacies, along with hospitals and health departments.
People are signing up on multiple sites, basically hoping to get lucky with a vaccine appointment, which is still difficult to find.
Pennsylvania remains in Phase 1A. The vaccine is earmarked for certain essential workers, people over 65 and those with medical conditions.
As far as the U.K. variant in the commonwealth, there are ways that you can protect yourself from becoming its next host.
“Facial coverings, and now, they’re saying if you wear two facial coverings that adds a lot more protection,” Danoff said. “Also, social distancing and handwashing.”
A new hotline was announced Wednesday for Montgomery County. If you have general questions about COVID or the vaccine, call 833-875-3967.MORE NEWS: COVID In Philadelphia: City Easing More Restrictions Monday On Road To Recovery
CBS3’s Stephanie Stahl and Kimberly Davis contributed to this report.