Now that Pennsylvanians 16 and older have universal access to COVID-19 vaccines, LNP | LancasterOnline gathered answers about what it means for scheduling and appointments at Lancaster County’s largest vaccination sites.
Dr. Michael Ripchinski, chief clinical officer with Penn Medicine Lancaster General Health and director of the Lancaster County Community Vaccination Center at the former Bon-Ton store at Park City Center, answered questions about the county’s mass vaccination site.
Hospitals were contacted to provide answers to the last question.
Will opening up eligibility translate into an influx of now-eligible patients?
“We do not expect the accelerated opening of Phase 2 to appreciably impact our operations, as we’ve already been scheduling Phase 2 for appointments beginning next week,” Ripchinski said in an email to LNP | LancasterOnline.
What will this mean for wait times?
Now a one-stop process, registrants are automatically directed to schedule an appointment at vaccinatelancaster.org.
“No more waiting for an email invitation,” Ripchinski said.
How has scheduling at the mass vaccination site changed?
When demand for a COVID-19 vaccine was high but supply was low the Lancaster County Community Vaccination Center instituted a lottery system that randomly selected eligible patients. The system would be reinstituted only if demand outstrips supply.
How do you remove your name from the registration list?
Call 717-588-1020 and select Option 5 to deactivate an account. Once deactivated, ignore automated emails you may receive.
Why are the phone numbers different when scheduling a first and second vaccine?
“This was done to ensure all patients are scheduled for the appropriate dose at the appropriate time,” Ripchinski said. “With multiple vaccine brands and different doses to schedule, it is imperative that we have clear processes to ensure everyone is getting the right vaccine dose at the right time.”
To schedule a first dose, call 717-588-1020. For second doses, call 717-588-1026.
Why can’t people accompany their spouses to the vaccination center?
“Our registration and scheduling system only offers appointments by individual,” Ripchinski said. “We will make an effort, upon request, to schedule spouses for their vaccinations at or near the same time, but we cannot guarantee it. Appointments are based on availability.”
Understanding that patients do not pick the COVID-19 vaccine they receive and that Pfizer-BioNTech is the only vaccine approved for 16- and 17-year-olds, does the center’s system know — prior to scheduling — whether Pfizer is available for appointments for minors?
“We have developed a process within our registration and scheduling system that would prevent a minor from being scheduled for an incorrect vaccine,” Ripchinski said.
If registrants do not have email, how are second doses scheduled?
This can be done in person at the center following the first dose or by phone, said Brett Marcy, spokesman for the Vaccinate Lancaster Coalition or by phone.
Some vaccine providers have created “cancellation waiting lists.” Which health care systems in Lancaster County have such a waitlist?
Wellspan and UPMC Lititz, although both health systems say they have sufficient enough vaccine supply to accommodate new appointments. Penn Medicine Lancaster General Hospital has not created cancellation waitlist.