An in-house communication with Willow Valley Communities residents Wednesday stated without citing evidence that COVID-19 vaccination clinics were postponed indefinitely because the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had halted shipments.
The Wednesday message from Dennis W. Griest, Willow Valley’s president and chief financial officer, blamed the delay, in part, to the CDC “temporarily stopping the release of the federal vaccine supply.”
While it’s unclear why Phoebe Pharmacy in East Petersburg Borough, which was to secure vaccine for the Willow Valley clinics, is not receiving an allocation this week, Pennsylvania expects to receive roughly 183,000 doses.
The two-day vaccination clinic for about 1,500 Willow Valley residents had been scheduled for Thursday and Friday.
"We don't know (why the vaccine was not available) because they (Phoebe Pharmacy) weren't able to tell us and they don't know because the feds didn't tell them,” Brian Rutter, a Willow Valley spokesman told LNP | LancasterOnline Thursday.
Rutter did not address the difference between his comments and Griest’s communication.
Founded in 1984 and situated on 210 acres in Willow Street, Willow Valley is a senior community for individuals 55 years and older.
Rutter said eligible residents would have received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
Barry Ciccocioppo, a spokesman for the Pennsylvania Department of Health, said Phoebe’s allocation denial was not related to providers using Moderna vaccine intended for second doses as the first dose. The mix-up, which began in January and was revealed Wednesday, nearly equaled the state’s entire allotment this week, disrupting what was available to providers across the state.
“It was not related to the second dose issue,” Ciccocioppo said in an email. “Still tracking to see if it was weather related.”
Cindy Richart, vice president of pharmacy operations for Phoebe Pharmacy, said in an email statement through the company’s marketing department, that they expected to vaccinate eligible individuals in Phase 2 of the state’s rollout plan.
“Unfortunately, the vaccine distribution schedule has changed and we are waiting to receive our supply from the federal government,” Richart said. “As soon as we are able to offer vaccines to our customers, such as Willow Valley, we will be providing them.”
Phoebe Pharmacy operates pharmacies in Lancaster, Lehigh and Montgomery counties.
“Due to the severe winter weather currently impacting a large swath of the country, the U.S. government is projecting widespread delays in COVID-19 vaccine shipments and deliveries over the next few days,” CDC health communications specialist Chandra Zeikel said in an email Thursday. “I don’t have any information specific to Lancaster County … but would suggest reaching out to the county or the state.”
Pennsylvania has roughly 1,700 providers approved to administer the COVID-19 vaccines. It’s unclear how many are in Lancaster County. Weekly distribution lists only show providers that have received a shipment.
As of Thursday, state providers had vaccinated roughly 1.8 million Pennsylvanians with at least one dose, 51,182 in Lancaster County.