Gov. Tom Wolf says he is moving up the timeline to make all adults eligible to get the COVID-19 vaccine. KDKA's Andy Sheehan reports.
KYM GABLE: No more waiting. Starting tomorrow, all Pennsylvania adults can make a COVID-19 vaccine appointment. Governor Tom Wolf and the state's coronavirus task force have moved up the vaccine eligibility timeline to a week earlier. KDKs Andy Sheehan joins us live at the site of that mass clinic in Monroeville. Andy?
ANDY SHEEHAN: Kym, the vaccine is now in a race against the virus. The idea is to get as many shots into as many arms as quickly as possible.
ALISON BEAM: Now all adult Pennsylvanians who want a vaccine can get one.
ANDY SHEEHAN: Providers were complaining. Under the state's strict eligibility guidelines, they were having trouble filling their vaccination clinics, needing to put out last-minute appeals to all comers. Acting PA health director, Alison Beam, said the state heard and is responding.
ALISON BEAM: Starting tomorrow, all Pennsylvanians ages 16 and older will be eligible to schedule a vaccine appointment.
- I'm 62, and I've had a quadruple bypass, and some time to get the shot.
ANDY SHEEHAN: A long line snaked around the parking lot of this mass clinic in Monroeville, where Allegheny Health Network administered some 6,000 doses today, doing its best to adhere to the state guidelines of groups 1A, B, and C.
LAUREN BADER: Yeah, I qualify. I'm a food service worker. And they just added that onto 1A.
ANDY SHEEHAN: While most seem to qualify, everyone is on the honor system. And screening is impossible. And the health network says ditching the groupings and opening up the vaccine appointments makes their job that much easier.
IMRAN QADEER: I think it's an excellent idea. It will help us in filling these appointments more quickly and get shots in the arms as quickly as possible.
ANDY SHEEHAN: And it comes at a time when vaccinations are in a race against the virus. COVID cases have spiked over the past few weeks across the state and here in Allegheny County. Health professionals believe vaccinations are the best single way to bring the infection rate back down.
IMRAN QADEER: We have to get shots in the arms as soon as possible so we'll bring down the infection rate in the county as well as decrease the hospitalization and debt associated with it.
ANDY SHEEHAN: And so the race is on. People who have been waiting to schedule appointments may now do so. And providers can now just concentrate on getting as many shots into as many people as possible.
Reporting live in Monroeville, Andy Sheehan, KDKA News.