HARRISBURG, Pa. (CBS/AP) — After weeks of complaints about Pennsylvania’s halting COVID-19 vaccine rollout, the state Health Department on Friday ordered vaccine providers to get shots into arms more quickly, offer more convenient scheduling and make sure that shots are only going to people currently eligible to receive them. Under the order from Acting Health Secretary Alison Beam, providers must administer at least 80% of their allotment of first doses of vaccine within a week of getting them and offer live telephone operators to assist people who can’t schedule their appointments online.
Providers must also adhere to the state’s phased rollout, which currently limits the vaccine to health providers, nursing home residents, people age 65 and older and younger people with serious medical conditions.READ MORE: COVID In Philadelphia: City Easing More Restrictions Monday On Road To Recovery
Providers that don’t abide by the order will have their weekly allocations reduced or suspended.
The Health Department said it was taking action in an effort to speed up the vaccine rollout and in response to widespread frustrations among Pennsylvania residents about how difficult it can be to secure an appointment. The state ranks poorly among the states in the number of shots given per 100,000 people, and in the percentage of allocated vaccine doses that have been administered.READ MORE: 'I Just Want Him To Come Home': Missing 13-Year-Old Jalen Maxwell's Mother Makes Tearful Plea To Help Find Her Son
“I understand how frustrating the current vaccine process can seem and we have heard from many Pennsylvanians that are struggling to schedule an appointment,” Beam said. “As there is very limited COVID-19 vaccine supply compared to demand, every possible effort must be made so that the vaccine received in the commonwealth is effectively administered. To achieve this goal, I am issuing an order outlining appropriate steps and recognized best practices to ensure vaccine providers are effectively meeting the goal of vaccinating Pennsylvanians and creating a healthy Pennsylvania for all.”
More than 4 million people are currently eligible to get one of the two approved vaccines. Nearly 1.2 million people have received at least one dose.MORE NEWS: COVID In Montgomery County: Big Drive-Thru Vaccine Distribution Site Under Construction In King Of Prussia
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