HARRISURG – Reps. Tina Pickett (R-Bradford/Sullivan/Susquehanna), Martin Causer (R-Cameron/McKean/Potter) and Clint Owlett (R-Tioga/Bradford/Potter) are calling on the state Department of Health to ensure sufficient COVID-19 vaccine supply in the state’s rural communities.
Currently, people who are looking for a vaccine are advised to contact their primary care doctor, as the state offers no central registry. Additional information about vaccine locations is available here
“Now that the administration has expanded its guidelines to make people age 65 and over, as well as people with high-risk conditions, eligible for a vaccine, there is a growing frustration with the lack of availability in communities across the Northern Tier,” Owlett said. “While supply is an issue across the state and the nation, our Commonwealth ranks very poorly in the amount of vaccine administered in comparison to what’s been received. We MUST do better.”
A recent report shows Pennsylvania ranks 44th among the 50 states for the percentage of vaccines administered compared to how many have been received. The lawmakers say that’s unacceptable.
“Our rural hospitals are working diligently on administering the vaccine as soon as they receive it. However, the Department of Health is unprepared when it comes to distributing the vaccine to rural areas,” said Pickett. “Our county emergency centers are working to keep people informed, but again, they are not getting up-to-date and timely information on the product. Changing directives on eligibility leads to false information and further anxiety for those seeking to get vaccinated. We need much better coordination by the Wolf administration, and if that requires assistance from the Pennsylvania National Guard, then so be it.”
To that end, the lawmakers are cosponsoring legislation that would call in the National Guard to assist with vaccine distribution. Under House Bill 326
, the Guard would be required to establish and operate mass distribution and administration sites in each county for the COVID-19 vaccine and assist local health officials with logistical needs to distribute the vaccines.
“Our local health care providers are doing a great job and are ready to administer vaccines to those who want them, but they simply don’t have enough. We are doing all we can to ensure rural Pennsylvania is not shortchanged when it comes to getting our share of COVID-19 vaccine,” Causer said. “While the administration works to procure more doses of the vaccine, activating the National Guard would better ensure we have the necessary infrastructure in place to get the vaccine where it needs to go as quickly as possible.”
The bill could be approved by the House later this week and sent to the Senate for its consideration.
Also this week, the House Health Committee will hold a hearing to assess vaccine distribution with testimony from Department of Health officials and health care providers. The hearing is scheduled for Wednesday, Feb. 3, at 8 a.m. It will be streamed live at PAHouseGOP.com
Representative Martin Causer
67th Legislative District
Representative Tina Pickett
110th Legislative District
Representative Clint Owlett
68th Legislative District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Pickett Media Contact: Andy Briggs 717-260-6474
Causer, Owlett Media Contact: Patricia Hippler 717-772-9846