HARRISBURG (April 21, 2021) – Bipartisan legislation is now being authored by Sen. Michele Brooks and Sen. Amanda Cappelletti (D-Delaware and Montgomery) to ensure that local pharmacies are included in the Commonwealth’s COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan.
While the demand for vaccine remains high, the number of vaccine providers remains limited, Brooks noted. Trusted local pharmacies are uniquely positioned to play a key role in that distribution plan.
“The local pharmacies in our hometowns are among the best suited to care for hard-to-reach populations and to address those reluctant to receive the vaccine,” Brooks said.
“Hometown pharmacies have proven themselves to be true partners who can fulfill these needs. Walberg’s and other small, family-owned pharmacies went above and beyond to change their processes, their staffing, and their business models to keep up with the demand and the needs outlined by the administration. Despite these efforts, the Department of Health continues to withhold vaccine shipments from them, their patients and the local residents who have come to trust and rely upon them over the years.
“For months, I have worked with the Department of Health to help locally owned pharmacies across the Commonwealth obtain vaccine, including Walberg’s Family Pharmacy. On Feb. 4, they also testified at a Senate hearing with other providers and the Acting Secretary of Health on how we can implement changes and accelerate Pennsylvania’s vaccine rollout. With this and other changes, we had much success in adopting a more aggressive approach to vaccine accessibility. Fast forward several weeks later, the Administration eliminated proven providers from the process. I was extremely disappointed with this elimination, and while I was committed to working with the Administration to add more pharmacies back into the process, and was not seeking a legislative solution, they have given me no other options but to seek a legislative solution moving forward.”
“In no way am I diminishing the efforts of other local providers in supporting local pharmacies. I believe we need to have as much access as possible,” Brooks added.
The Brooks-Cappelletti bill would require that, in each of the 66 counties under the Department of Health’s jurisdiction, a minimum of at least two local pharmacies would be included in the vaccine distribution process at all times. These pharmacies would be required to meet the orders upheld by the Secretary of Health. In counties with only one available pharmacy, the inclusion of that sole pharmacy would meet the demands of the act.
To increase transparency, help those without internet access or computer experience, and eliminate some of the chaos in locating doses, Sen. Brooks is also introducing additional legislation that will require providers receiving state allocations of COVID-19 vaccine to publish what they have received and where it is being administered on a weekly basis with two newspapers in each county when available.
“Our vaccination plans should take into account those at highest risk and those hardest to reach, which are often one and the same,” Brooks said. “I have heard often from our homebound, their in-home caregivers, seniors and adults receiving home and community-based services, and those needing transportation and other accommodations. We must consider their unique needs as well as the needs of everyone in our plan.”
Brooks’ legislation will require that every provider receiving state allocations of COVID-19 vaccine, including the Department of Health, publish when and where they have vaccine available, with a contact phone number in two newspapers of general circulation, if available, on a weekly basis. The goal of the advertisements would be to help increase communication between those in underserved communities and providers with vaccine doses, as well as eliminate the chaos in identifying vaccine locations and availability.
“During a time when only a limited number of providers are receiving vaccines, everything possible must be done to reach those still waiting and wanting to be vaccinated,” Brooks said.
CONTACT: Diane McNaughton (717) 787-1322 email@example.com