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For several weeks, healthcare workers across Philadelphia have been getting vaccinated for COVID-19. They’re part of the state’s “Phase 1A."
But there’s confusion over screening and how to get the second vital dose.
Dental hygienist Inga Khaitman is one of the people who ran into a problem.
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“It was smooth sailing. I signed up, I registered online gave some info, booked an appointment -- no problem. I went to my appointment-- no problem. I got the vaccine,” Inga recalls of getting her first dose at a Rite Aid in Queen Village.
But signing up for the second dose wasn’t so easy.
“They said you need to go set up your next appointment online like you did the original. But when I went back online it says there's no appointments anywhere within a 50-mile radius,” Inga told NBC10 Responds.
She worried she wouldn’t be able to get her next dose of the Moderna vaccine within the necessary 28-day window.
Inga contacted the city and got an email from the city Health Department which reads in part: “We have been working with Rite Aid to try and straighten out their appointment system. They have not been able to limit who they are accepting, including persons who live outside Philadelphia.”
Speaking of screening people and the line-jumping concerns, Rite Aid told us: “At its simplest, for Phase 1 relationships, Rite Aid does not determine how much vaccine supply we receive, how frequently we receive it or which individuals or groups are included in the state or local jurisdiction’s rollout plan. Additionally, we do not disseminate the scheduling tool we provide to the state or local jurisdiction, and do not determine or participate in the state or local jurisdiction’s credentialing or eligibility checking process.”
Second Dose Scheduling
According to Rite Aid: “When a customer receives their first vaccine at Rite Aid, the pharmacist will schedule their second appointment for the follow-up dose 28 days later. Additionally, the pharmacist will follow up with reminder calls closer to that second dose date to assure their second vaccination is received on time. If for any reason a customer didn’t schedule a second appointment at the time of their first vaccination, their pharmacist will reach out to schedule a second appointment.”
After NBC10 Responds contacted Rite Aid about Inga’s situation, she received a call from a pharmacist who scheduled her second dose.
The City Weighs In
Since speaking with the city of Philadelphia about what happened with Inga, a city spokesperson said changes are coming to its contract with Rite Aid.
According to the city, it asked Rite Aid “to stress to their pharmacists that they check for residency and health care provider status. Rite-Aid’s corporate office has been on the same page as us about these restrictions, and has passed that information onto their pharmacists.”
The city went on to say: “Given the continuing issues, we agreed with Rite-Aid that we would change the priority groups that they’re focusing on to help facilitate verification. Instead of them doing unaffiliated healthcare workers, they will finish the appointments that are already set and new appointments will be for 75+ only.”
The City of Philadelphia says details of how people will be directed to Rite Aid is being worked out. Those appointments are expected to begin in February.