As Delaware Valley residents continue to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, controversies remain about how elected officials should encourage people to get vaccinated.
President Joe Biden announced a new strategy earlier this month to persuade more Americans to get vaccinated. It involved more community outreach and the potential of sending people door-to-door to see if residents are vaccinated.
The vaccination campaign introduced by the federal government would also focus on having family doctors that Americans trust distribute COVID-19 vaccines. That would make vaccinations available at worksites and events and help employees get paid time off to get vaccinated.
Pennsylvania’s Department of Health (DOH) provided a grant to an organization to do door-to-door vaccinations in areas with low vaccination rates. The DOH’s goal is to encourage residents to get vaccinated and give them the most convenient way to access the shots.
“That organization is working with subgrantees who know their community best to get residents vaccinated,” Maggi Barton, DOH spokeswoman said. “We want to ensure the plan strictly adheres to FDA and EUA guidance for vaccinations.”
As of right now, Bucks County doesn’t plan on using a door-to-door approach to encourage more residents to get vaccinated.
“We won’t be going door-to-door certainly that I’m aware of,” Larry King, Director of County Communications for Bucks County, said. “We want to continue to get as many eligible people as possible vaccinated, particularly younger people who were not originally eligible for the vaccine.”
Kelly Cofrancisco, the spokeswoman for Montgomery County, said there are no plans to go door-to-door at this time.
Now that kids from ages 12-18 are eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, this will create an opportunity to have a more typical school opening in Bucks County this fall after many schools have been remote since the pandemic.
Bucks County has identified 60,000 of its residents who have received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. As a result, the county reached Biden’s goal of getting at least 70 percent of its adult population to get at least one dose of the vaccine by July 4.
However, the county currently doesn’t record all of those same residents returning for their second dose.
“We are certainly hoping to reach out to them individually, either email or phone call just to encourage them to get their second dose of the vaccine,” King said.
There has also been a lot of controversy surrounding whether businesses will require their customers to present proof that they have been vaccinated.
In Bucks County, is up to the businesses themselves to make those decisions. For example, county buildings have initiated a policy that you don’t have to wear a mask if you have been vaccinated, while unvaccinated employees must wear one.
“That’s a private decision that the businesses themselves make and we’re not in charge of how they make it,” King said. “Most businesses throughout the county right now are going off the honor system and trusting that their customers are making the right decision and protecting others.”
Meanwhile, some local residents asked via Facebook about possible visits by officials to talk to them about COVID-19 vaccinations had mixed reactions.
“I think the goal is to answer questions (accurately) and get people the resources they need (transportation, child care, homebound vaccinations, etc.) to get vaccinated when/if they choose to so I’m all for it,” said Lynda Schwandt Moore of Collingdale.
Mary Sylvester of Media agreed, saying, “All for it. Inform people.”
But Delaware County resident Joe Patterson, Sr. said, “I don’t think so! (It’s) none of their business. Period.”
And Kristen Nicol said, “I think it reminds (me) of WWII Germany.”