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Governor Wolf says criticism of vaccine rollout 'deserved' as he states PA needs to do better

Providers and doctors agree: The demand for vaccine is greater than supply. Gov. Wolf says the state needs to get vaccine out more quickly and fairly.

YORK, Pa. — After a tour of Family First Health in York, Governor Tom Wolf told FOX43 he is not satisfied with the COVID-19 vaccine rollout. 

"If you want me to acknowledge that need to do a better job. I'm there. We need to do a better job," said Gov. Wolf.

Vaccine providers and doctors agree: The demand for vaccine is greater than supply.

"The greatest challenge we continue to see is vaccine supply," said Dr. Michael Ripchinski, Chief Clinical Officer for Lancaster General Health.

"Access, absolutely access," said Jenny Englerth, CEO of Family First Health.

It has resulted in thousands of Pennsylvanians who wait their turn for the COVID-19 vaccine.

"It's clear: We are receiving a lot fewer vaccines than we need. This week, this week, the number of vaccines applied for, first doses, is double than what we actually received. We requested about 400,000 doses, and we have about 200,000," stated Gov. Wolf. "We need to do a better job at getting it out quickly and getting it out fairly. I think we're around the national average when it comes to the percentage of the population that has been inoculated. I want to be above average."

According to data from Johns Hopkins University and Medicine, Pennsylvania is among the worst states when it comes to the % of population fully vaccinated. However, it is among the top 10 states when it comes to how many people have been fully vaccinated: 1,160,000 people and counting, according to the data and the Pennsylvania Department of Health.

With initial supplies limited, the COVID-19 vaccine will be distributed to Pennsylvanians in four phases. Use the Your Turn tool to find out what phase you are in. We're currently in Phase 1A and have begun vaccinating those most at-risk of illness, such as health care workers and Pennsylvanians living in long-term care facilities, persons age 65 and older, and those age 16-64 with high-risk conditions.

"The burden is falling on you guys to get it out faster. You get a lot of criticism. How do you respond to that?" asked FOX43's Grace Griffaton.

"I think it's deserved. In any system, if all you do is hear what you want to hear so I appreciate the criticism," responded Gov. Wolf.

The governor says the state continues to learn and is taking notes from providers.

"WellSpan, Family First, places like this are doing a good job, and we need to learn what they're doing," stated Wolf.

Family First is starting its own version of 'March Madness' except, for them, it's shots into arms not baskets that will make the difference.

"We're turning all three floors of this building into a vaccination site every Friday for the foreseeable future. All of our primary care will be taken virtually during those days," explained Englerth. "It really will become a hub that people will be able to recognize as a place to get a vaccine and information about the vaccine, and we'll be here as long as it takes."

Englerth says anywhere between 200 and 300 people will be vaccinated at Family First Health each Friday.

Family First Health has begun to vaccinate patients that fall into Phase 1A of the PA Department of Health guidelines for COVID-19 vaccination, with an initial focus on those patients that are ages 65 and over. All sites are actively reaching out to patients to schedule their vaccines as it is available.

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