Image: Pennsylvania National Guard vaccine deployment plan headed to governor’s desk

Pennsylvania National Guard members stand watch near City Hall, Wednesday, Nov. 4, 2020, in Philadelphia, following the general election.

(The Center Square) — A bill that activates Pennsylvania’s National Guard to help administer vaccines is headed to Gov. Tom Wolf’s desk.

The measure, approved unanimously in the Senate on Wednesday, will involve the troops in speeding up the effort once the state’s supply of COVID-19 vaccine meets overwhelming demand.

The state needs about 8 million doses to complete inoculation for the 4 million residents qualified under Phase 1A but has only received about 3.5 million shots from the federal government so far.

Rep. Tim O’Neal, R-Washington, who sponsored the bill in the House, said Wednesday he’s pleased the Senate moved the bill quickly.

“As a former guardsman, I have seen firsthand the capabilities our military has to deploy millions of dollars’ worth of equipment and thousands of people across the world in a timely and efficient manner,” he said. “There is no reason why the guard cannot use its logistical expertise at home with the COVID-19 vaccine efforts.” 

President Joe Biden promised to vaccinate 100 million Americans in his first 100 days in office. His administration said that weekly shipments to states will total 145 million over the next five weeks – setting a pace that could run far past his initial 100 million commitment. The Associated Press reports that the supply will rise to 200 million by the end of May and another 200 million through the end of July. 

The governor's administration has said they will support the bill.

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