HARRISBURG—The Republican Southeast House delegation today demanded the administration give the responsibility and authority for allocating and distributing the COVID-19 vaccine to the Pennsylvania National Guard.
Under Act 4 of 2021
, the National Guard has the authority to distribute vaccines in the Commonwealth. The bill was passed by bipartisan majorities in February.
“There are people throughout Bucks, Montgomery, Delaware and Chester counties who should have already been vaccinated if the administration had followed an equitable distribution formula,” said Rep. Frank Farry (R-Langhorne). “The planning of this distribution has lacked transparency; it’s been a disaster. The National Guard specializes in logistics, and that’s how we fix this moving forward.”
“We are hoping the new leadership at the Health Department will join us in our call to use the National Guard to save lives,” said Rep. Martina White (R-Philadelphia). “This is all about vaccine equality.”
The delegation also wants the National Guard to base the allocation model on population, particularly the population of those listed under the designation 1A, those over 65 and with serious health issues.
The delegation made its decision to call on the National Guard after a meeting with administration officials Sunday where Department of Health officials said it would not change its convoluted and arbitrary formula—one not based on science-- for distributing the vaccine, which has left the Southeast region short of vaccines based on the area’s population.
The Southeast members involved in the meeting included Reps. Farry and White, along with Reps. Meghan Schroeder (R-Warminster), Wendi Thomas (R-Richboro), Todd Stephens (R-North Wales), Tracy Pennycuick (R- Gilbertsville), Craig Staats (R-Quakertown), KC Tomlinson (R-Bensalem), Shelby Labs (R-Doylestown), Todd Polinchock (R-Chalfont), Tim Hennessey (R-Pottstown), John Lawrence (R-West Grove), Chris Quinn (R-Media) and Craig Williams (R-Chadds Ford).
On Thursday, the Bucks County delegation unveiled House Bill 756, which would require COVID-19 vaccines be distributed to counties based on population.
The Philadelphia Inquirer recently analyzed statistics from the PA Department of Health and found the suburbs of Philadelphia, including Bucks, Delaware, Montgomery and Chester counties, received far fewer vaccine doses per 100,000 residents than in the more rural counties in the state.
Bucks, at the time of the reporting, had received 13,103 per 100,000 residents. While Bucks ranks third in the state for population, it ranked 34th in the state in the number of doses given. Delaware County received 9,113 per 100,000 residents. While Delaware ranks fourth in the state for population, it ranked 53rd in the state for the number of doses given.
House Bill 756 would also give local health departments a say in the distribution of the vaccine and make certain the vaccines get to the people within a county who are most at risk. This would reduce confusion as people would no longer have to sign up on multiple websites.
The bill would also require the state Department of Health to compensate the counties for any existing shortfalls in the number of vaccines already distributed.
“We hope House Bill 756 could be a guide for the National Guard in getting the vaccine into the arms of those who need it most,” Farry said.
Southeast Pennsylvania Legislative Delegation
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: David Foster