Senate approves use of Pennsylvania National Guard to distribute COVID-19 vaccine

HARRISBURG – Pennsylvania National Guard members could aid in the distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine under legislation approved by the Senate today, according to Senator Kristin Phillips-Hill (R-York), who supported the bill.

National Guard units have already been conducting tests, sanitizing facilities, providing logistical support and delivering meals and personal protective equipment during the pandemic. House Bill 326 would expand their authority to distribute and administer the vaccine to eligible Pennsylvanians who want to receive it.

“All of our neighboring states are further along in the vaccination of their eligible population,” Phillips-Hill said. “The administration’s failed unilateral rollout of the vaccine has further demonstrated that its go-it alone approach has not worked. The unanimous support of this legislation shows people on both sides of the aisle are frustrated and seeking to be part of the solution.”

The bill would allow the National Guard to operate under the guidance of the Pennsylvania Departments of Health and Human Services to help collect, secure and transport doses of the vaccine. In addition, National Guard members who have the necessary training would be permitted to administer the vaccine upon request.

In addition to providing administrative and logistical support, the legislation also allows for the creation of regional vaccine distribution sites across the Commonwealth. The governor would also be required to submit a report to the General Assembly within 45 days providing details on the integration of the National Guard into the state’s vaccine distribution plan.

The bill could help improve Pennsylvania’s troubled roll-out of the COVID-19 vaccine. The state currently ranks 46th in the nation in terms of the percentage of distributed vaccines that have been administered.