March 25, 2021
Press Release

POTTSVILLE, PA — Yesterday, Congressman Dan Meuser (PA-9) sent the following letter to the Pennsylvania Acting Secretary of Health, Alison Beam, urging the commonwealth to reengage independent pharmacies as vaccine providers to increase access and promote equitable distribution. Pennsylvania currently ranks 46th among states for the rate of senior citizens who have received at least one dose of the vaccine.

“Over the last several weeks, the Department of Health has made needed improvements to the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines. Vaccine supply is increasing yet Pennsylvania ranks 46th among states for the rate of senior citizens who have received at least one dose. I am concerned that the Department’s decision to sideline independent pharmacies had a negative impact on vaccine access, especially for underserved and vulnerable populations. I was assured in a call this week that independent pharmacies will resume receiving first dose allocations at some point. I ask the Department to provide clarity on when allocations will resume and to reengage independent pharmacies as soon as possible.

“I have heard from independent pharmacies in my district that were negatively affected by the Department’s decision to temporarily curtail the number of vaccine providers. Many independent pharmacies had already vaccinated thousands of eligible individuals and diligently adhered to the Department’s guidelines. These providers have had to cancel thousands of appointments for individuals who are eager to be vaccinated, creating long waiting lists without any indication as to when they will receive additional doses. This high level of uncertainty disproportionately affects eligible senior citizens, many of whom have existing relationships with these pharmacies and may experience unnecessary obstacles finding and accessing an alternative provider.

“Independent pharmacies have earned their local reputation through years, and often generations, serving a community. Several states and Philadelphia, a separate vaccine jurisdiction from the Commonwealth, have had notable success engaging independent pharmacies to increase access and promote equitable vaccine distribution. While I can appreciate the need to be strategic in allocating doses, it is critical that independent pharmacies be reengaged as vaccine providers for the benefit of the communities they serve. Their previous success and high level of trust and accessibility are reason to resume allocating vaccine doses to them as soon as practicable.”

To read Congressman Meuser’s letter online, please click HERE.