Calls To Open Up Distribution To All Swell In Pa.

The state moved to open up vaccination eligibility this week, but there are calls to open up faster. KDKA's Andy Sheehan has more.

Video Transcript

STACY SMITH: Pennsylvania is continuing to vaccinate more people as it expands eligibility. And so far, more than 5.7 million vaccines have been administered. But there are also calls this evening to try to open it up faster. KDKA investigator Andy Sheehan reports from Dick's Sporting Goods headquarters in Moon, where they are now wrapping up a mass clinic.

ANDY SHEEHAN: Right now, vaccine availability is restricted to those Pennsylvanians who are in group 1A or 1B. But one way or another, folks outside of those groups are finding ways to get vaccinated.

It's the largest mass clinic to date. 6,500 people filed through Dick's Sporting Goods headquarters to get the COVID vaccine administered by the Allegheny Health Network. It's a safe bet that many of them are not part of groups 1A or B.

IMRAN QADEER: We were having people attest to it online that they meet criteria, and it's by honor system.

ANDY SHEEHAN: AHN doesn't police the applicant and says there's no way to truly tell. Spartan Pharmacy tried to hold this clinic today for 2,400 people in 1A and B but only got 700 takers, so it opened up to everybody.

Pharmacist Adam Rice says it's time to ditch the groupings and make the vaccine available to the general public.

ADAM RICE: It's time to open things up. There are people that want it. All the college students, all the healthy younger individuals who've been patiently waiting, let's get them the vaccine.

ANDY SHEEHAN: But according to state guidelines, it'll be two weeks before that happens. And in a statement to KDKA, the state health department says it's sticking to the plan, though it doesn't want to see any vaccine go to waste.

Quote, "We encourage all providers to adhere to the vaccination plan which calls for vaccinating people eligible in phase 1A and 1B this week; expanding to 1C next week and everyone the week of April 19. However, at the end of scheduled vaccination sessions, if any doses remain, we would rather they put the vaccine into the arms of people who want it, not back on the shelf."

- Whoever wants it should have an opportunity to get it.

ANDY SHEEHAN: But people who got an appointment this morning at Broughton Volunteer Fire Department say it's time to open up the gates. JoAnn Tissue wouldn't have qualified under 1A or B but turned today's vaccination into a family affair.

JOANN TISSUE: I was able to get my niece and her boyfriend and my nephew and his wife in today, where they would have had to wait two or three more weeks to get their first shot. So myself and my family could not be more thrilled.

ANDY SHEEHAN: And people I spoke with today say it's time to open up now. Most of the states around us already have, and these folks say they've already waited long enough.

Reporting in Moon Township, Andy Sheehan, KDKA News.