PA-ACP has been advocating use of PCPs for vaccine education, distribution since February.

On April 21, the Department of Health announced that it would begin to expand its network of COVID-19 vaccine providers as demand for the lifesaving shots begins to slow and existing vaccinators order fewer doses.  PA-ACP supports this decision as important to patient care and vaccine utilization.

The Department of Health had decided Feb. 12 to cut Primary Care Physicians and local pharmacies (two-thirds of the providers who had signed up to deliver the Covid-19 vaccine) from the state’s distribution network.  That action led PA-ACP to immediately respond, calling on the Department to reverse its decision.  In the intervening weeks, PA-ACP has continued to express the value of PCPs in patient education and outreach to patients who might otherwise not access the vaccine.

Internists discuss COVID vaccine regularly with their patients, and educate them about its potential to move us forward.  Our patients call primary care internists, family physicians and pediatricians daily to ask questions about the vaccine and many have been disappointed when told they have no supply for them.  In rural areas, many patients would prefer to come to their  and are the site our patients want to access for this important vaccine, not regional clinics or large retail pharmacies that Patients call us to discuss this vaccine every day and are disappointed when told we have no supply for them.

Sending vaccine to PCPs and neighborhood pharmacies should make it easier for people in underserved areas to schedule an appointment.

The state had slashed the number of providers receiving vaccine by more than two-thirds as the Wolf administration, under pressure to speed shots into arms, redirected the state’s vaccine supply to hospitals, federally funded health centers, municipal health departments and large retail pharmacies that could quickly inoculate large numbers of people.

Acting Health Secretary Alison Beam said at a media briefing that she expects more providers will receive shipments over the next two to three weeks, a supply is finally catching up to demand.  She predicted that by late May or early June, all 3,000 providers that signed up to receive vaccine might become eligible for it.

Between 200 and 300 providers are currently receiving first doses from Pennsylvania’s weekly allocation, down from nearly 800 providers early in the state’s rollout.

The state has said it cut the provider network to focus on those that could efficiently vaccinate large numbers of people.

The state’s existing vaccine providers are now submitting their orders for next week, and Beam said that will give the Health Department an indication of how much of the state’s federal allotment it will be able to redistribute to smaller providers.

Two bills – HB 1164 and HB 1257 – have been introduced by Rep. David Millard (R, Columbia) that would require the Health Department to send vaccine to all providers that have signed up to receive it, and to reimburse providers costs preparing for storage of the vaccine only to lose their allocations.