Mar. 04, 2021

HARRISURG—Republican legislators from Bucks County have introduced legislation to require COVID-19 vaccines be distributed to counties based on population.

“Bucks County is being significantly shortchanged in the number of doses due to the administration’s formula for deciding how many doses of vaccine each county receives,” said Rep. Frank Farry (R-Langhorne). “And Bucks County is not alone.”

Co-sponsoring the legislation with Farry are Reps. Wendi Thomas (R-Richboro), Craig Staats (R-Quakertown), Todd Polinchock (R-Chalfont), KC Tomlinson (R-Bensalem), Meghan Schroeder (R-Warminster) and Shelby Labs (R-Doylestown).

Based on the state Department of Health statistics as analyzed by the Philadelphia Inquirer, the suburbs of Philadelphia, including Delaware, Montgomery and Chester counties, have received far fewer vaccine doses per 100,000 residents than more rural counties in the state.

According to the reporting, Bucks received 13,103 per 100,000 residents, Montgomery received 17,667 per 100,000, Chester received 14,748 per 100,000, and Delaware received 9,113 per 100,000 residents.

Bucks County ranks third in the state for populations but ranked 34th in the state in the number of doses given.

At the same time, Montour County received more than 164,000 doses per 100,000 residents, more doses than there are residents within the county. It ranks 61st in population but is No.1 in doses.

In a joint statement the members called these findings “outrageous.” 

“We are dealing with issues of life and death, which is too important a decision to be left to arbitrary formulas,” they said.  “Clearly, the residents of Bucks County are in just as much danger of contracting the virus and deserve their proportional share of vaccines, but we cannot get a straight answer on how the formula for distributing the vaccine was crafted.  We have had conference calls, written a detailed letter and continued to express our concerns and seek answers.  The concerns raised by our residents, healthcare providers and county officials have been heard.  Now we are left to force responsible actions by the state’s Department of Health by mandating it through statute.  What we are proposing is a commonsense approach that should not need to be legislated.  By distributing the vaccines based on population we will bring fairness to what is now a patently unfair system.” 

House Bill 756 will also give local health departments a say in the distribution of the vaccine and make sure the vaccines get to the people within a county who are most at risk.  This would reduce confusion as people would no longer have to sign up on multiple websites.

The bill also requires the state Department of Health to immediately make up for any existing shortfalls in the number of vaccines already distributed.  

“The best way to get the vaccine into the arms of those who need it most is to rely on the local health departments who know their counties and residents best,” they said.

Bucks County Legislative Delegation
Pennsylvania House of Representatives

Media Contact:  David Foster