Plans for two mass vaccination sites to serve four counties in the Philadelphia suburbs including Bucks have been put on hold.
Instead, the state has opted to split 42,000 doses of the single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine between the four county health departments.
It comes after a battle spanning several weeks between the state health department and local officials.
Members of Congress, state legislators, and County Commissioners alike on both sides of the aisle criticized the decision to use mass vaccine sites and called on the state to give more control to county health departments.
The controversial mass vaccine sites were intended to correct an issue of inequality in the distribution of vaccines.
Acting Health Secretary Alison Beam says the decision to cancel the sites came after the federal government pushed to give more doses to pharmacies.
“To ensure that vaccine continues to get to people efficiently and equitably,” said Beam, “Pennsylvania is adapting its plan to allow workers in targeted industries to access any of the three vaccines available at providers throughout the state, and to accelerate our eligibility for remaining phases of the state’s vaccination plan.”
The PA Department of Health opened eligibility for workers in four industries Wednesday. These include law enforcement, firefighters, grocery store employees, and those who work in food and agriculture.
Next, people in Phase 1B can start making appointments on April 5. The following Monday, April 12, the state will open to those in Phase 1C.
By April 19, every Pennsylvania resident will be able to make an appointment.
But being eligible only gives a person the opportunity to schedule an appointment. Bucks County officials say vaccine clinics are booked with people in Phase 1A through late April
“It is important to remember that eligibility does not guarantee an immediate vaccination appointment,” Beam said. “Vaccine providers are ready and eager to get a shot in the arm of every person who wants one while we continue to aggressively advocate for more vaccine.”
There’s also questions surrounding whether vaccine supply can keep up.
However, Beam stated vaccine production is ramping up. Clinics throughout the state are administering an average of 83,000 vaccines per day.