State legislature calls upon National Guard to assist in vaccine distribution

Regional News

(WTAJ) — With Pennsylvania ranking near the bottom when it comes to vaccine distribution, the state legislature is calling out the National Guard to assist in getting more shots in more arms more quickly.

Representative Tim O’Neal’s bill would require the Department of Health and PEMA to greater utilize the guard. It passed with an army of support 202 to 0. He was in the guard and the army and he still has the lingo.

It’s unacceptable. We need to make sure we are using all avenues, all resources across the commonwealth to correct the situation. The citizens expect to be able to have access to these vaccines and failure is not an option. This bill isn’t for today. It’s about putting logistics and infrastructure in place for the future.

Rep. Tim O’Neal

Success is not assured but what good is vaccine infrastructure if you don’t have a vaccine to distribute? Acting Health Secretary Alison Beam didn’t reject the idea and pointed out the guard is helping in nursing homes now.

I will note that all public health infrastructure has been stretched by the pandemic including the National Guard.

Alison Beam, Health Secretary

But O’Neal is from Washington County and says you only have to look across state lines to see what is possible.

“West Virginia is leading the effort and primarily that’s because they’re utilizing their National Guard to distribute and administer vaccines,” said O’Neal.

The bill passed the House unanimously and is now on to the senate.

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