Pa. health officials reviewing COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan for Philadelphia suburbs

YEADON, Pennsylvania (WPVI) -- Some Delaware County leaders are frustrated over how doses of the COVID-19 vaccine are being divided throughout the state, and argue that the county isn't getting its fair share.

An analysis by the Action News Data Team shows some of Philadelphia's suburban counties are being vastly short-changed on vaccines.

According to the latest data analyzed by Action News, per every 1,000 residents, Delaware County (564,554 residents) has received 134 doses; Bucks County (626,806 residents) received 168 doses; Chester County (519,560 residents) received 171 doses, and Montgomery County (823,823 residents) received 221 doses.

By comparison, the state reports having sent almost 45,000 doses to Montour County, population 18,259, over the last three months. Four other smaller counties, Mifflin, Mercer, Clarion and Elk, all received more than 500 doses for every 1,000 of their residents according to state data. Out of 67 counties, Delaware County is ranked 46th.

Delaware County Council Chairman Brian Zidek said their complaints have gone unaddressed until now.



"We have been complaining to Harrisburg. We have been speaking with our state reps and senators to say that we believe that Delaware County is not getting its fair share of vaccine," Zidek said.

Zidek said the county is facing a major problem.

"A lot of our constituents are afraid. They're afraid for the loved ones, they're afraid for their health," Zidek said.
Zidek said he has not heard how the state health department plans to fix the issue.

"I have not, other than what I read in the newspapers, which says they're going to fix the issue but they have not communicated with us in any manner," Zidek said.

The Pennsylvania Health Department responded Tuesday to 6abc's request for comment: The Department of Health is working on an in-depth analysis of vaccine distribution in the four collar counties and plans to share details later this week.

The Action News data journalism team also discovered that Bucks, Chester and Montgomery counties are undersupplied compared to their neighbors.

"We have everything ready in Delaware County, we have sites set up, we have nurses. We are ready to roll in Delaware County, just please give us the vaccine," Zidek said.

"That doesn't make any sense. I mean I would think we'd be prioritized," said Jason Avalone, of Springfield, Delaware County.
Democratic State Senator Anthony Williams stated that the second week into the vaccine distribution, they started to see there was a discrepancy. At first, they believed there was a mistake on the counties' end but later realized that was not the case.

"We were told to trust that states would set up a system that was fair and equitable, factored in communities that were underserved and balance it based on that," said Williams.

Congresswoman Mary Gay Scanlon tweeted in response to the difference in numbers: "I just got off the phone with the State Health Department concerning the undersupply of COVID-19 vaccines in Delaware County. They will be sending additional doses to our region over the next couple of weeks to bring us in line with the state average."

During a state department of health press briefing on Tuesday, Lindsey Mauldin acknowledged Scanlon's tweet but would not specify exactly how many doses existed and where they would go.

"I think it's important to recognize every county is different and has their own set-up in terms of healthcare workers and population. But again, like I've said before, we'll continue to stabilize those numbers as vaccine numbers start to increase across the state and the country," she said.
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