Pa.’s vaccine rank not acceptable; time to call in National Guard
Is it time to call in the National Guard?
We believe the answer is an emphatic YES.
As we turn the calendar page to February, Pennsylvania was ranked either 49th or 44th — depending on which report you read — among the 50 states for administering the coronavirus vaccine doses it had received.
The administration of Gov. Tom Wolf disputes that low ranking, claiming that instead of being in the bottom 10 that Pennsylvania is in the top 10.
We found a ranking of all 50 states in Becker’s Hospital Review.
As of this past Tuesday, 1.97 million doses had been distributed to Pennsylvania, but only 1.23 million doses had been administered, for a rate of 57.37 percent, according to Becker’s.
The journal noted that the numbers may be off due to coding problems and data lags that have hindered efforts for an accurate count, but we have a hard time believing it’s off by such a wide margin to propel Pennsylvania to the top part of the list.
Rather than arguing the numbers, the state government should make it a primary mission to get vaccines into the arms of Pennsylvanians at a smarter pace.
Look at what other, better ranked states did.
After front-line health-care workers, they allowed vaccines to the oldest of their citizens, in one state’s case, 85 and older first.
Then 75 to 84 … and so on it will go.
Pennsylvania opened it to 65 and older, one of the largest if not THE largest segment of our population.
Not the smartest move.
That means people at 65 are getting shots before people who are 70, 75, 80 and even older.
Again, not acceptable.
A state lawmaker — Republican Rep. Timothy O’Neal of Washington, Pa. — has filed a bill to involve the National Guard in the widespread distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine.
His bill, which has been referred to a committee, calls for the Guard to “establish and operate in each county a site for the mass distribution and administration of any vaccine for COVID-19.”
As we see it, this is a necessary step that cannot afford to get bogged down in the slow legislative process. The demand for the vaccine already has seen outlets receiving it overwhelmed by contacts from people seeking to register for it.
Factor in that healthcare facilities are stretched thin. Staff is needed to administer the vaccines in a proper facility with an area for people to wait for 15 minutes after receiving it so they may be monitored for adverse reactions.
Additionally, the vaccine has special storage requirements. It’s not as if it may be shipped to the local pharmacy to be placed on a shelf until it is administered.
So, yes, call in the National Guard. Open mass vaccination sites in every county in the state. Get ready.
It’s not just Pennsylvanians but the entire world that is anxiously awaiting this vaccine.
We cannot afford to wait.
It’s time to follow up the life-changing sacrifices of the past 11 months with a commitment to get the job done.