– After learning of the Pennsylvania Department of Health’s temporary plan to limit the vaccine distribution network to 200-300 providers statewide, Rep. Doyle Heffley (R-Carbon) today expressed concern over the decision’s impact on Carbon County residents seeking to be vaccinated.
Acting Secretary of Health Alison Beam announced details of the plan on Thursday with the goal of getting more vaccines to Pennsylvanians. She described the new, focused network of providers as being stronger because it covers 95% of the state.
Heffley noted the network now includes only one vaccine provider in Carbon County – Mauch Chunk Pharmacy in Jim Thorpe. Previously, vaccines had also been available at Rite Aid drug stores and at St. Luke’s University Health Network’s local campus, which to date has vaccinated more than 6,000 people. According to Heffley, that location can administer up to 5,000 shots per week, if the Department of Health stops diverting vaccines.
“Is it any wonder Pennsylvania continues to rank so low nationally in vaccine deployment when decisions like this are made by bureaucrats sitting at a desk in Harrisburg?” said Heffley. “The department says this plan was devised to ensure a more equitable distribution of the vaccine. Why should Carbon County now have to suffer for the inadequacies of the Wolf administration to distribute them?”
“This new plan is going to be inconvenient for our residents, who now have only one location to get a vaccine. We had a good system in place that was ready to ramp up and more than triple the number of vaccines. Now, instead of getting shots in arms with efficiency, Carbon County residents will have to travel out of the county or wait for weeks to get their vaccine. I fail to see how the administration’s new plan is all about ‘equity,’ as they claim,” added Heffley.
Beam said the new provider network system will go into effect on Monday, March 22.
Representative Doyle Heffley
122nd Legislative District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Andy Briggs