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COVID-19 In Pennsylvania: Using Interactive Map To Find Available Vaccines Becoming Troublesome For Pennsylvanians

ARMSTRONG COUNTY, Pa. (KDKA) -- The coronavirus vaccine is in short supply, but nearly everyone wants it.

Millions of more Pennsylvanians can now receive the vaccine, but only if they can find an available dose.

KDKA's Meghan Schiller spent the day with one Armstrong County man as he worked to maneuver the state's new eligibility quiz and interactive map, which aim to show available vaccines nearby.

Glenn Heilman thought it wouldn't be too hard to find a vaccine dose in Armstrong County. He has spent the past 10 months inside his home with his dog by his side.

"I'm 65 and I have an underlying medical condition that is Crohn's disease, which is a suppressed immune system response," said Heilman.

He hopped on the state's website on Wednesday and completed the quick eligibility quiz. It told him he was eligible to receive the vaccine because of his age and his condition. But when he scrolled down to the interactive map, things turned dicey.

"I got red dots and I just don't have anything that's close that I might be able to access," said Heilman.

The map is designed to show vaccine providers nearby. Red dots mean no vaccine supply, and green dots are supposed to show the locations of available vaccine supply.

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(Photo Credit: KDKA)

KDKA heard from many viewers who claimed to have spent the day calling the listed numbers for the green dots only to find out they didn't have any available doses.

Heilman clicked one green dot near his home, a local Rite Aid.

"I went to the Rite Aid site this morning around 9:30 and I was on there for three hours," he said.

First, the Rite Aid website told him 3,852 people were waiting in line. Then that number decreased to 1,200 people. Hours later, he was feeling excited and down to the 200s.

His hopes deflated when he finally got to the front of the line and a message popped up saying there were no appointments remaining.

"That's four tries for exactly no benefit," said Heilman.

KDKA also called the numbers listed next to a handful of green dots in Allegheny County. Some establishments had full voice mailboxes, and other voicemail messages directed callers to send emails. When KDKA logged onto the Rite Aid site, it said more than 100 people were waiting even though the site had since posted a message saying it had no availability.

Heilman told KDKA that he's going to keep trying every morning and then he'll expand his search. He said even a couple of hours in the car is worth it if he can find some peace of mind and a full vaccination.

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