GREENSBURG, Pa. (KDKA) – Westmoreland County leaders are demanding answers after they say they’re not getting enough COVID-19 vaccines while counties with smaller populations are.
Sean Kertes is the chairman of the Westmoreland County Commissioners. He says he wants answers and more vaccines as soon as possible because it literally is a matter of life and death.READ MORE: Allegheny County Police Investigating Shots Fired In North Versailles
“Time is of the essence. When we’re looking at time and people’s health, there is no time to spare,” he said.
Westmoreland County Commissioner Sean Kertes bluntly stated his take on the urgency in which the county needs more vaccines.
“Through week 11 of the Pa. vaccine distribution plan, Westmoreland County ranks 60th in the amount of vaccines we’ve received,” he said.
Those vaccines are all being distributed out of Harrisburg. For Kertes, the numbers simply don’t add up. Population-wise, Westmoreland is the 11th biggest in the commonwealth.
“We have residents asking, ‘why we can’t get this, what’s the problem, who’s being responsible?’ The commissioners don’t have these answers,” said Kertes.
He adds, “We haven’t heard anything from Harrisburg, from the Pa. Department of Health why we’re ranking so low in the distribution of vaccines.”
According to Kertes, the state sent roughly 34,000 vaccines since distribution began in December. The county has over 348,000 residents with 81,000 eligible for the vaccine right now.READ MORE: Fatal Police Shooting In Ohio Hospital Caught On Officer Body Camera
“A lot of these local pharmacies have registries that reach in the thousands of people on lists waiting for them,” said Kertes.
KDKA reached out to state Senator Kim Ward about the problem. She too has been looking into the issue, saying in a statement:
“According to the dose administration data the DOH has, the county is showing fewer doses per capita than similarly sized counties but has administered ~24 doses/1000 people, which places it in the top 1/3rd of counties for administrations…Depending on the State’s total allocation, the DOH has assured me they will work to increase Westmoreland’s doses next week.”
Barry Ciccocioppo, the Communications Director for the Pennsylvania Department of Health, tweeted a reply:
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The Department of Health has heard the concerns related to vaccine supply in Westmoreland County. In fact, the vaccine allocations this week to Westmoreland County providers were the largest weekly allocations to date.
— Barry Ciccocioppo (@BarryCiccociopp) March 5, 2021
“The Department of Health has heard the concerns related to vaccine supply in Westmoreland County. In fact, the vaccine allocations this week to Westmoreland County providers were the largest weekly allocations to date,” he said.