Merski, Harkins call for increase in vaccine doses to Erie

Say amount delivered does not sufficiently represent population

ERIE, Feb. 17 – State Reps. Bob Merski and Pat Harkins said Erie County is not getting its fair share of vaccine under the state’s distribution plan, and they are urging the governor and state health officials to correct the inequity.  

In a letter to Gov. Tom Wolf and Acting Secretary of Health Alison Beam co-signed by other Erie state representatives, the lawmakers claim vaccine allocation is supposed to be based on population size, but records show Erie County is not getting a share proportional to its population.

“Although Pennsylvania can’t control federal production and distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine, the state can at least ensure that the supplies it does get are fairly distributed,” Merski said. “That isn’t happening right now – Erie is getting short shrift, and that’s not acceptable. 

“State records show Erie County has 2.1% of the state’s population, but it is only receiving 1.7% of the available vaccine. At the same time, it’s being reported that three counties in Pennsylvania representing 21% of the population are receiving more than one-third of the state’s total supply. We are urging Governor Wolf and state health officials to supply the additional doses to ensure Erie residents get the fair shot at this vaccine that they deserve.” 

Harkins said: “Our local Erie health officials and healthcare providers have the capacity to distribute the vaccine, but that capacity is exceeding supply. To be sure, some of those problems stem from shortages at the federal level. But improper allocation is compounding that problem by forcing residents to start from an uneven playing field. We are calling on the governor to rectify that.  

“Our three major providers have assured us that they are up to the task and ready to handle distribution of additional vaccine. Now it’s up to the state to deliver.”

A copy of the letter – which is also signed by Erie state Reps. Ryan Bizzarro, Curt Sonney, Brad Roae and Parke Wentling – is available