Williams Champions Legislation Giving Suburban Counties Greater Authority for Vaccine Distribution

vaccineImage by Wilfried Pohnke

HARRISBURG, PA — Rep. Craig Williams (R-Chester/Delaware) provided key support and sponsored a critical amendment to legislation approved by the House that would give suburban counties greater authority for vaccine distribution including responsibility for selecting mass vaccination sites.

“While Pennsylvania has made improvement in its vaccine rollout, all avenues must be pursued to improve efficiency and equity of access,” said Williams. “The unwillingness on the part of the PA Department of Health (PA DOH) to effectively include the suburban county health departments in its vaccine planning has resulted in inequity of access and unnecessary confusion for those in our area.”

Among other provisions, House Bill 63 would give officials in Chester and Delaware counties, as well as Montgomery and Bucks counties, the responsibility for selecting mass vaccination sites. It would also allow for the establishment of one site per county rather than the two sites currently allotted to the four suburban counties.

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Williams authored an amendment that was incorporated into the bill which would require the PA DOH to detail how it will distribute vaccines to counties that have requested more vaccines. The reports would be required to include the department’s plans to provide a sufficient number of doses for the COVID-19 vaccine to meet the counties’ requests and information about the number of vaccine doses already administered in the affected counties.

“For weeks many of us had demanded information and a plan about the equitable distribution of vaccines to counties across the Commonwealth,” said Williams. “As legislators the effectiveness of our efforts to vaccinate Pennsylvanians as efficiently as possible depends on good, reliable data and information from the Department of Health. During the most significant health challenge of our lifetime, the need for high-quality information and a plan is even more pronounced.”

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In efforts to further alleviate inefficiencies and unequal access, Williams has also co-sponsored House Bill 756, which calls on vaccine allocation to be based entirely on population instead of the DOH formula, signed a bipartisan letter to the Pennsylvania Department of Health asking for clear explanation of how and when counties that are lagging in vaccine delivery will receive additional vaccines, and partook in a virtual press conference which focused on vaccine efforts.

“Our counties have been ready to be full partners with the state Department of Health. Unfortunately, that willingness hasn’t been reciprocated, and this legislation is necessary to ensure we get shots into arms as quickly, efficiently and as equitably as possible,” Williams said.

House Bill 63 now awaits consideration in the state Senate.

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