At vaccine rollout hearing, Longietti calls on state to do better

HERMITAGE, Feb. 8 – State Rep. Mark Longietti today questioned state officials at a House Policy Committee hearing regarding why the COVID-19 vaccine rollout is not proceeding more efficiently.

Citing delays and frustration, Longietti, D-Mercer, urged the state to implement a centralized system that will bring greater efficiency and certainty to the rollout.

“Today at the Policy Committee hearing on the vaccine rollout, I had a chance to question the state’s senior health adviser on why Pennsylvania is not doing a better job of administering the vaccine.

“I related the extreme frustration that people are feeling trying to sign up for the vaccine and encountering dead ends, going on five or six websites – or waiting more than an hour online – only to find that they didn’t even get on the list. The situation reminds me of the story of the paralyzed man in the Gospel of John. He goes to the healing pool, but he never gets healed because he doesn’t have anyone to help him into the pool.

“Our state needs to do better, and this means implementing a centralized registration system so folks who meet the qualifications can sign up, rather than being stuck in limbo with no assurance of help on the way.

“I also demanded answers regarding why UPMC is not starting to vaccinate the community in Mercer County and whether they plan to reach out to the entire community or only to those on their patient list. We did not get immediate answers, but the department did agree to look into this question. 

“I let the department know that Primary Health Network, whose headquarters is in our district, is in nine counties in Pennsylvania and is ready and willing and able to administer the vaccine when it becomes available.”