'Extremely disappointed': Southeastern Pa. counties not satisfied with state's plans for regional PEMA site

The Philadelphia suburbs and the state of Pennsylvania are at odds over how to vaccinate everyone who is still waiting for a shot. The state wants to set up a regional mass vaccination site, but the counties say they're better off doing it on their own.

A line of umbrellas with Delaware County residents attached snaked to the door of the Aston Community Center Thursday.

Inside, there are 1,000 Moderna shots awaiting arms and the rain won’t dampen desire.

"It’s great thank God I finally got it. They’re so short especially in Delaware County they’re having a hard time," Pat Sharsteen said.

While the Pennsylvania Department of Health argues shipments of the vaccine have picked-up as of late, it reinforced Thursday, it still wants to place a state-run mass vaccination site shooting the one-shot Johnson & Johnson dose somewhere in the region.

"We built consensus around mass vaccination sites being able to really drive speed and volume in the areas of the state that may not necessarily have that capacity built," Acting Pennsylvania Secretary of Health Alison Beam said.

County leadership in Southeastern Pennsylvania argues it has built its own vaccination sites and could jab many more arms if it only had additional state-supplied vaccine.

"We respect the state wanting to do it in a particular way right now, but we are re-emphasizing to the state we are able to give out large quantities of vaccines," Delaware County COVID coordinator Rosemarie Halt said.

Southeast Pennsylvania counties issued a joint statement on a regional PEMA site to distribute the COVID-19 vaccine, reading in part, "We are extremely disappointed to hear that PA DoH is not considering our request to allocate the Johnson and Johnson vaccine directly to Bucks, Chester, Delaware, and Montgomery counties. We have reiterated our concerns about establishing a regional PEMA site for many reasons, and we remain deeply concerned that equitable distribution will be compromised at such a site."

The statement added,"Instead of working with local elected officials and county Health Departments closest to the people we serve, the State has chosen to take the advice of a Boston logistics company to establish regional sites as our local mass vaccination sites sit underutilized. We have highly qualified public health and safety teams in place, high-volume locations secured, and more than 500,000 people waiting on our collective lists to get their shots. We just need more supply."

Joining Good Day Philadelphia on Friday morning, Beam said southeast Pennsylvania could split its future shares of the Johnson & Johnson vaccines between two mass vaccination clinics to ensure access and equity. Pennsylvania is also contemplating mobile vaccination units in the densely populated southeastern region.



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