Still unclear when PA will move out of phase 1A of vaccine roll-out

Approximately 70% of Pennsylvanians over the age of 64 have received at least one shot of a COVID vaccine as of this past Friday.

Video Transcript

- As Delaware now joins New Jersey and New York in announcing major expansions in vaccine access, that has many wondering why Pennsylvania is still in phase 1A with strict limits on who can get the shot right now. Action News' Walter Perez set out to get some answers on that today. He's live in studio this afternoon. So, Walter, what gives here?

WALTER PEREZ: Well, Brian [? and Sherri, ?] if only there was a simple answer to the whole thing. Critics of the Governor do say that falling behind many other states that are expanding eligibility is putting too many people at risk unnecessarily. The Governor says that while the rollout has not gone perfectly, the plan for the most part remains on track.

Governor Wolf says he's on board with President Biden's goal to open COVID vaccine eligibility to every adult by May 1st. As of the end of last week, approximately 70% of Pennsylvanians over the age of 64 had received at least one shot of a COVID vaccine. According to the CDC, that puts the Commonwealth ahead of New Jersey, but behind Delaware.

Either way, while Pennsylvania's neighbors are beginning to broaden vaccine eligibility, PA remains in phase 1A. Even Philadelphia, which is handling the rollout independent of the state, has entered 1B. Tony Reed, Chief Medical Officer for the Temple Health System, says a primary reason why the city is moving on is the increase in supply.

TONY REED: We've been able to ramp up. There was a point where we were doing only about 2000 a week, and over the last six to eight weeks we've been able to ramp it up. Last week we hit 5,000 for the first time.

WALTER PEREZ: Managing the rollout across the rest of the state though, has proven a bit more difficult. Simply put, when you look at it county by county, vaccine supply rates have varied, as has the rate of demand. In other words, there are some counties where the number of people who want the vaccine is very low. Speaking today at a mass vaccination clinic in Dauphin County, Governor Wolf said the bottom line is the state will move into phase 1B soon.

GOVERNOR WOLF: We estimate that we're more than 3/4 of the way through just our-- our 1A population, and we should be finished with them fairly quickly.

WALTER PEREZ: All as officials from Harrisburg and Philadelphia believe the turning point in the vaccine rollout will come over the next few months.

TONY REED: I'll be optimistic that we can get many people invited for vaccination by the-- by the summer, and then by the end of the summer have most everybody vaccinated. And if we can beat even those timelines, that would be even better.

WALTER PEREZ: Now to put it in a little perspective, the original goal was to have everyone in Pennsylvania in phase 1A registered for an appointment by March 31st. That's tomorrow. So while that seems unlikely at this point, there's still optimism about opening eligibility to all Pennsylvanians by May 1st. Back to you guys.

- OK, Walter. Thank you.