Pa. Still In Phase 1A While Other States Drop Coronavirus Vaccine Eligibility Requirements

While other states are dropping their eligibility, Pennsylvania is still in Phase 1A of its coronavirus vaccine rollout. KDKA's Andy Sheehan has more.

Video Transcript

- President's ambitious goal, will Pennsylvania be ready to meet it? KDKA investigator Andy Sheehan is getting some answers today. He joins us live right now with what he is learning. Andy.

ANDY SHEEHAN: Well, Kim, while other states are dropping their eligibility requirements, Pennsylvania remains in 1A, basically people 65 and older or those with pre-existing conditions. But even folks in that category think we should start expanding that eligibility.

TOM OFFERMAN: People my age, everybody I know, said they've gotten it already.

ANDY SHEEHAN: 65-year-old Tom Offerman has one vaccine dose in the shoulder and is about to get his second. But the clinic scheduled at the Spartan Pharmacy tomorrow for people in his category has very few takers and plenty of available slots.

ADAM RICE: Quite a few-- over-- over a thousand as of this morning.

ANDY SHEEHAN: In the past few weeks, the supply of vaccine has increased markedly for those in group 1A, frontline workers, those 65 and older, and others with at-risk medical conditions. Pharmacist Adam Rice says most everyone in that group has already gotten at least one dose and it's time for the state to expand eligibility.

ADAM RICE: We need to get shots in arms and achieve herd immunity.

ANDY SHEEHAN: So it's time to move down to 1B and--

ADAM RICE: For what I'm seeing, yes. And the public feels the same way.

ANDY SHEEHAN: President Biden wants to make most everyone eligible by mid-April, and states around us are well on their way to achieving that goal. In New York state, everyone over 50 is eligible. And Ohio today dropped their eligibility from 40 years old to everyone over 16. West Virginia is already vaccinating people 16 and older and is well on its way to complying.

So it should move down at this point?

- Yeah, sure, it should.

ANDY SHEEHAN: In a statement, the health department said, quote, "The state is well on its way to completing 1A while moving forward with plans to vaccinate those under 1B while adding targeted industry vaccinations." But we've already reported about people going across state lines to get inoculated. And mass clinics like these are on the honor System. Pharmacist Rice concedes younger people are getting vaccinated by fibbing about their medical conditions.

ADAM RICE: The public is not stupid. The public will-- who wants the vaccine will find a way to get the vaccine.

ANDY SHEEHAN: Now, Governor Wolf wants everybody in 1A to be scheduled for their vaccination by this week. And then he says after that, he will be soon announcing a reduction in the eligibility requirements. But once again, the state is being criticized for moving too slowly. Reporting live at Heinz Field, Andy Sheehan, KDKA News.