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COVID-19 In Butler County: Hospitals Adjusting On Fly After State Announces New Vaccine Distribution Plan

BUTLER, Pa. (KDKA) -- The Pennsylvania Department of Health announced a new version of the vaccine distribution plan on Friday.

RELATED STORY: Gov. Wolf, Dept. Of Health Announce Updates To Phased Plan For COVID-19 Vaccines

This is the fourth version of the COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan in Pennsylvania. While things change, local health systems are rolling with the punches.

"Many people are ready, many people perceive their risk. They've been riding this out for a long time and have been careful for a long time," said Dr. David Rottinghaus, the chief medical officer at Butler Health System.

Dr. Rottinghaus said Butler Health System was tasked with vaccinating the county's 1A Phase.

"We distributed almost 1,000 in the last 3 days. We are pretty far down the road in tier 1A," Rottinghaus said.

But almost all first responders in the county are now vaccinated despite being part of the state's 1B category.

"I think the definition of health care workers and who's really out front and most at risk, there is a little bit of subjectivity to that. If we do have extra vaccines and we are through everything the state has designated as 1A, we will sometimes pull other people in," Rottinghaus said.

People like Adams Area Fire Chief Tim Lyellen.

"It was in and out, very efficient, very uncomplicated, very easy," Lyellen.

He believes it's important for first responders to get the protection of a vaccine early.

"We rely upon our volunteers to answer 800 calls a year. If we have an exposure here at the fire station, a significant portion of our response capabilities is decreased. Now there is comfort that we don't have to worry as much," Lyellen said.

As the Butler Health System works on distributing the second dose, Rottinghaus said they are waiting for answers from the state on what role they will play when we move to Phase 1B.

"We are very willing partners, and I know we have a lot of eager resources and people to help in that effort," Rottinghaus said.

Rottinghaus told KDKA that they've received two shipments of the Pfizer vaccine. Each came with 975 doses, but they were able to get an extra dose out of each bottle to help move through the process faster.

On Friday, the Butler Health System started distributing the second dose.

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