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Allegheny Co. reports new vaccine appointments filled within 30 min., many by people not meeting criteria

PITTSBURGH — The Allegheny County Health Department announced Tuesday evening it was expanding appointment opportunities for the COVID-19 vaccine for people aged 65 or older. A similar announcement late Friday led to widespread anger and frustration as people were unable to navigate the website and couldn’t get through to schedule one of the limited appointments.

“I know there’s a lot of frustration out there,” ACHD director Dr. Deborah Bogen said during a news conference Wednesday. “We are frustrated here, too.”

Bogen said the appointments released Tuesday were filled within 30 minutes. She said many of the appointments are being taken by people who don’t meet the criteria of Phase 1A and are not at least 65 years old. She said when someone books an appointment, staff members have to check that person’s information and it’s taking time to cancel those appointments for people not fitting the criteria.

Bogen said another frustrating part of the current situation is the health department’s inability to plan around how many doses of the vaccine they’ll be getting each week. She said they received around 50,000 doses last week, which was double the amount from the previous week. She said the county doesn’t know how much they’re getting because the state doesn’t know how much it will get from the federal government.

Bogen said the numbers in Allegheny County for the past few days were “encouraging.” She said the daily case count numbers are similar to what was reported in the first few days of November.

The positivity rate fell to 7.8% in the county, which was a decline of 1.6%. Bogen said her agency is monitoring reports of several different COVID-19 variants appearing in different parts of the country, and is watching to make sure they haven’t shown up locally. She said should that happen, there is a real chance one of the strains could “undo all the hard work.”

Contact tracing continues and the health department is now able to reach about 80% of a person’s reported close contacts.

“We urge everybody’s patience,” county executive Rich Fitzgerald urged. It was an often repeated phrase during the event.

Individuals 65 and older can register for appointments using the following links:

Please note that the vaccine registration system will not work on Internet Explorer but works on other web browsers. Users will be asked about insurance during registration, but insurance is not required for the vaccine. The vaccine will be provided at no cost.

>>>RELATED: COVID-19 vaccinations underway for people 65+ through ACHD

If the user is redirected to the state’s vaccine page and eligibility quiz, the appointments for the date selected are full and the user should try to schedule for another date.

CLICK HERE for more information from the county health department