A day after President Biden’s announcement the national mass vaccination effort will likely stretch into the fall, Bucks County Commission Chair Diane Ellis-Marseglia acknowledged the community’s angst over access to vaccines and asked for patience. She also offered a sign of hope: Vaccine clinic sites will open next week at county college campuses in Bristol, Newtown and Perkasie.
Three more sites are expected to open in the future when vaccine supply increases.
Next week the county will open vaccine clinics at the three Bucks County Community College campuses, starting with 200 doses per day and increasing to 500 doses per day as more vaccines become available, said interim emergency services director Andrea Kenny.
The appointment-only sites will vaccinate those in the 1A phase – residents considered vulnerable to the virus, as well as emergency and medical workers. There are 200,000 people registered in the county health department’s portal, said Kenny.
“I know it’s hard, and this is awful for all of us,” Ellis-Marseglia said at a press conference Thursday to update the public on county vaccination efforts. “But it looks like we may not have the general population vaccinated until well into the fall.”
With questions about teachers being vaccinated in the 1A phase, the commission chair said those teachers worked with special education students who cannot wear masks.
Noting that Montgomery County had to close down its COVID-19 vaccine clinic yesterday because it ran out of supply, Commissioner Bob Harvie said “there isn’t a stockpile…every vaccine we get is going into arms.”
Bucks County has reported a reduction in positive cases and deaths countywide earlier this week, now averaging just under 200 COVID-19 cases per day and 19 deaths over the past week. That marks the fewest weekly deaths to the virus since early December.
County spokesman Larry King said 119 of the county’s 1,056 deaths to COVID occurred in January, making it the fourth-deadliest month of the 11-month pandemic.
But the vaccine roll-out in Bucks — as with much of the state — is sluggish. With over 628,000 residents, the county received 2,000 doses last week, and 3,000 this week. The number of vaccines is likely to be capped at 5,000 doses per week until more is available.
The county is entitled to 14 percent of the supply sent from the state, said the commission chair, with the lion’s share going to hospitals and pharmacies.
“I expect that one day, we will be able to get the COVID-19 vaccine when we want it, the same way we can get the flu vaccine when we stop by our pharmacy today,” said Dr. David Damsker, county health director, “But we’re not there yet and we are giving out the vaccine as fast as we get it.”