HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) – Pennsylvania’s Department of Health will carry out a text messaging campaign to encourage roughly 254,000 people in the state to follow through and get the second shot of the two-shot COVID-19 vaccine that they never received.
Officials said Thursday that the campaign will begin early next week as the resurgent coronavirus in the form of the highly contagious delta variant is skyrocketing cases in Pennsylvania.
The state’s acting health secretary, Alison Beam, said the second dose will provide stronger protection against the delta variant.
She said it’s not too late to get it, and it’s not necessary to start over with the first shot.
House Republicans responded to the vaccine text idea with dismay, citing privacy concerns. They question whether the Department of Health has the authority to use personal information in this capacity, whether the information has been provided from the Department of Health to third party providers to facilitate the text messaging, how that contract was entered into, and what precautions are being taken to protect the information of Pennsylvanians.
“Millions of Pennsylvanians have admirably stepped up to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, but no Pennsylvanian—even those partially vaccinated—gave permission to the Wolf administration to send them a text message or provide their private health and personally identifiable information to a third party vendor or anyone else,” said House Republican Caucus Spokesperson Jason Gottesman.