For weeks, state officials have been blaming much of Pennsylvania’s slow COVID-19 vaccine rollout on providers unnecessarily holding back doses to make sure people got second doses when needed.
In fact, they forcefully urged providers not to hold back doses, assuring them the second of the two required doses would be available when needed.
Yet on Wednesday, Acting Health Secretary Alison Beam announced providers since early January have been giving out second doses of the Moderna vaccine as first doses, characterizing it as a significant mistake. More than 100,000 people could be affected, Beam said.
Because of the error, Beam said up to 60,000 people could have to reschedule appointments, and up to 55,000 others might be delayed in getting their initial doses.
While not fully reconciling the apparent conflict in guidance, Beam laid out the details while also saying the state can adjust so that everyone gets their second dose within an acceptable time frame. There is no medical difference between the first and second doses, so the situation should provide no immediate health danger, she noted.
Beam refused to assign blame, although she suggested the state health department is at least partly responsible.
“What we are working on is making sure our department, our communication, our transparency, our end of the bargain is improved upon,” Beam said.