Allentown Health Bureau Director says vaccine distribution is challenging

Written by on January 12, 2021

Allentown Health Bureau Director says vaccine distribution is proving to be challenging

By Chloe Nouvelle

January 12, 2021

Photo- University of Maryland School of Medicine via AP

Pennsylvania is lagging in its COVID-19 vaccine distribution. Of more than 827,000 doses received, only about a third have been administered as of Monday. 

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Allentown Health Bureau Director, Vicky Kistler, says she doesn’t want to give people false hope that the city alone is planning for mass immunization clinics. 

That’s because it can only accommodate up to 350 shots a day. Kistler says that’s partly due to things like social distancing and the vaccine itself.

“This vaccine is more complicated than other vaccines in so far as it has a 15 minute post vaccination waiting period,” she says, “It’s a much bigger logistics operation than shots where we can all stand in a big clump or in a big line all together, close together, where we simply get our shots, take our paperwork, jump in our car and drive home.”

While Allentown is only vaccinating people under what the government calls Phase 1a which includes mainly healthcare workers, state health officials anticipate moving into Phase 1B soon. That will open up shots to people like grocery store workers and teachers.

As vaccine eligibility expands, the city is looking to others for help.

“Our hospital networks are much much larger providers of vaccines. And we are discussing plans with them cooperatively to look at being able to vaccinate larger numbers in different venues,” Kistler says.

And Kistler says when the city has unused vaccine doses, they’re not going to waste. If there’s no healthcare worker, shots go to police and firefighters.

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