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.
“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