The Lead

House passes bill to mobilize National Guard for vaccine distribution

By: - February 5, 2021 12:09 pm

(Sylvia Owusu-Ansah, an emergency department physician at UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, receives Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine, Mon., 12/14/20)

The state House voted unanimously Friday to mobilize the National Guard to aid in distributing COVID-19 vaccines. 

The bill, sponsored by state Rep. Tim O’Neal, R-Washington, looks to utilize the National Guard’s “communication and logistical” strategies to expand vaccine distribution in the commonwealth. 

“This is the number one issue in this state,” state Rep. Chris Saintano, D-Lawrence, said on the House floor Friday.

State lawmakers from both sides of the aisle began throwing their support behind the legislation on Wednesday, following Gov. Tom Wolf’s budget address, arguing that Wolf’s budget proposal did not prioritize vaccine distribution. 

As Pa.’s vaccine rollout stumbles, House will vote on whether to turn it over to National Guard

“This is something that should have been done a long time ago,” Saintano said. “There’s nothing more important than getting the vaccine out there.”

In a briefing with reporters Friday, Health Department Senior Advisor Lindsay Mauldin expressed support for working with the National Guard to bolster vaccine distribution efforts. 

“We’ve always worked closely with our partners at the National Guard. Right now they’re helping at nursing facilities,” Maulin said. “Our public health infrastructure has been stretched thin, and that includes the National Guard. We’ll continue to work collaboratively with our partners, and that includes the National Guard.”

The bill now moves to the state Senate for consideration 

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Cassie Miller
Cassie Miller

A native Pennsylvanian, Cassie Miller worked for various publications across the Midstate before joining the team at the Pennsylvania Capital-Star. In her previous roles, she has covered everything from local sports to the financial services industry.