Erie County Health Department urges commonwealth to invest in public health while awaiting COVID-19 vaccine

Coronavirus

For a vast majority of Erie County, the wait for the COVID-19 vaccine continues.

During today’s COVID briefing there was a warning that the wait could last for months.

Meanwhile, Erie County Health Department officials said that the commonwealth needs to make public health a top priority across all counties moving forward.

Here is more on Erie County’s future investment in public health.

Officials said that other counties in the state have made larger investments in public health over the last couple of years while influencing their ability to distribute vaccines.

Local Public Health Director Melissa Lyon explains when it comes to vaccine distribution, it’s the past investment in public health made by some that is paying off now.

“Allegheny County has invested in their public health infrastructure quite robustly for a number of years and they have more capacity,” said Melissa Lyon, Public Health Director for the Erie County Department of Health.

Lyons added a given county’s previous investment impacts their capacity to order and store COVID-19 vaccines, as well as the staffing it takes to get these vaccines out to the community.

“How has a community invested in their public health infrastructure. So their expectation for each county cannot be equal because the investments have not been equal across the commonwealth,” said Lyon.

Chairman of the Erie County Council Carl Anderson said there aren’t specific funds coming to counties as they had in 2020.

Anderson said that county council will ultimately have to allocate funds.

“I would suspect the more money will be coming through our health department which we will actually have to allocate when it gets here,” said Carl Anderson, Erie County Council Chairman.

Anderson added that the health department may be able to receive some federal spending to aid in vaccine distribution.

“The health department and the administration are the ones that would really be taking the lead in seeking out those funds,” said Anderson.

County Executive Kathy Dahlkemper said that investing in public health will be worth it in the long run.

“Going forward, Erie County and the commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the nation as a whole need to invest in public health in a way that we never have,” said Kathy Dahlkemper, (D) Erie County Executive.

The county executive added that this investment in public health will not only benefit the well being of Erie County residents, but the local economy as well.

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