Here’s how to sign up to get the COVID-19 vaccine in Pennsylvania

A person receives a COVID-19 vaccine

Philadelphia's first standing city-run COVID-19 vaccination clinic opens at the Martin Luther King Jr. Older Adult Center on Cecil B. Moore Avenue, Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

Ask us about COVID-19: What questions do you have about the coronavirus and vaccines?

Pennsylvania currently has no statewide vaccine sign-up system. Instead, each county has a sign-up system, and each system works slightly differently.

A map of providers approved to administer the vaccine in Pennsylvania is located here. But depending on your county health care provider and priority group, you may not be eligible for vaccination at all locations listed on the map. Be sure to check eligibility requirements for each site before trying to schedule an appointment, or search for your provider on this list of Philly-area hospitals currently distributing the vaccine.

Pennsylvania is also distributing vaccines through a pharmacy partnership. Outside Philadelphia, the Rite Aid online sign-up portal is open to those 65 and older, health care workers, long-term care facility residents and staff, emergency medical service workers, pharmacy staff, public health employees, and individuals 18 or older with high risk conditions.

For county-specific public vaccine sites, scroll to: Bucks County | Chester County | Montgomery County | Delaware County | Berks County

(Philadelphia, which receives vaccines directly from the federal government, has an entirely separate vaccine prioritization strategy from the rest of Pennsylvania. Scroll down for more.)

Still having trouble with vaccine sign-up or finding an appointment? Try connecting with others: The Pennsylvania COVID Vaccine Match Maker group on Facebook matches vaccine “seekers” with volunteer “finders” to help streamline the process.

Does it feel as if you’ve signed up on every list possible and still haven’t heard back? Remember, limited vaccine supply means that it might take a while to get your shot, even if you’re following all the right steps.

How can I sign up for the COVID vaccine in Philadelphia?

The City of Philadelphia is currently making vaccines available to those in Phases 1A and 1B.

That includes health care workers, residents, and staff in long-term care facilities and other congregate settings, individuals 75 and older, and people over the age of 16 with certain high-risk medical conditions (note: as of Feb. 23, this includes individuals who are HIV-positive). It also includes essential workers in high-exposure, critical infrastructure roles: firefighters, paramedics, police officers, teachers, and child care providers, as well as people working in high-volume essential retail, critical manufacturing, food service, and public transportation.

(Not part of those priority phases, or still aren’t sure into which phase you fall? Here’s an interactive vaccine priority guide that might help.)

There are just over 100 providers in the city approved to administer the vaccine, mapped here. Anyone who lives and works in Philadelphia can indicate interest in getting the vaccine at the official city sign-up page or by calling the city’s COVID call center at 215-685-5488.

If you’re 75 or older, check your email. Local pharmacies are now concentrating on the city’s senior population, and invitations to schedule appointments have gone out to everyone over the age of 75 who expressed interest via the city’s vaccine form. City officials estimate that’s about 29,000 people. If you’re one of them, you may have already received a sign-up link.

If your health care provider is in Philadelphia, you may also be able to express interest by setting up an account and staying updated on its online health portal, since that’s how many hospitals are first contacting eligible patients. Penn patients can fill out the Penn Medicine interest form, while both Jefferson Health and Temple Health patients need to sign up for accounts on their respective online portals to be notified when vaccines are available. For more Philly area hospitals, see this guide to local hospitals distributing doses.

As of Monday, the city has opened up three locations for mass vaccination in North Philadelphia, West Philadelphia and Kensington. Each site is open two days a week and is prepared to give 500 doses per day. These sites are appointment-only, and invitations to schedule appointments are sent out to highest-priority residents based on the city’s sign-up system database.

“The most important thing to put out there is that this is definitely not first-come, first-served — we ask a lot of questions on [that] vaccine interest form so we can prioritize within those groups, and the reason we had to do that is that we don’t have enough vaccine for everybody,” city Health Department spokesperson James Garrow told WHYY News. “We want to make sure that the people who get it first are either at the highest risk of being exposed to the virus, or at the highest risk of going to the hospital or potentially dying if they do get the disease. Unfortunately, what that [means] is that other people, who are still at very high risk, have to wait.”

That means that even if you’re currently eligible to receive a vaccine, an appointment may not be immediately available to you due to limited supply.

In Center City, another mass vaccine site could open as early as March 3. FEMA announced Friday it would soon open a clinic at the Pennsylvania Convention Center, with plans to administer as many 6,000 doses daily to eligible Philadelphians.

Note that if you pre-registered for vaccine updates from Philly Fighting COVID early this year, the city Department of Public Health strongly recommends entering your information again with the city. That’s because Philadelphia cut off vaccine supply to Philly Fighting COVID on Jan. 25 after the group switched to a for-profit model and dropped community testing partners. For those who already got a first dose through PFC, the city set up another clinic to provide the necessary second doses.

How do I sign up for the vaccine elsewhere in Pennsylvania?

In the rest of Pennsylvania, vaccines are currently available to those in Phase 1A.

That includes health care workers, residents, and staff in long-term care facilities, individuals 65 and older, and people 16 years of age or older with certain medical conditions that put them at increased risk for developing severe COVID-19 symptoms.

(Not part of those priority phases, or still aren’t sure into which phase you fall? Here’s an interactive vaccine priority guide that might help. You can also use the Pennsylvania Department of Health’s Your Turn tool to help you determine if you’re currently eligible.)

If you have a primary health provider, it’s also worth calling or looking at the website to check whether it’s approved to distribute the vaccine.

Bucks County has a vaccination pre-registration form available on its website, and those without internet access can call the county COVID-19 helpline at 1-800-383-0371. But that pre-registration is currently open only to those qualifying for Pennsylvania Phases 1A, 1B, and 1C.

County vaccine clinics are at the Bucks County Community College campuses in Bristol, Newtown and East Rockhill townships; they operate Tuesdays through Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., contingent on adequate vaccine supply. Vaccinations are by appointment only, with invitations for appointments sent to those in Phase 1A who have pre-registered earliest. Walk-ins are not accepted.

Individuals who live or work in Chester County can pre-register for the vaccine by filling out the county’s online interest form. Those in Phase 1A who are currently eligible will receive a link to schedule a vaccine appointment from the Health Department when one is available. Appointments are required, and no walk-up registrations are accepted.

Chester County is sending appointment links in the order that valid pre-registration forms were completed, on a “first-come, first-served” basis. Those who aren’t in Phase 1A, but who are interested in receiving the vaccine when it becomes available later, can still fill out the same interest form to receive regular updates on distribution in the county. Note that Chester County is currently administering just the Moderna vaccine, which is only approved for individuals 18 and older.

Montgomery County residents or workers can sign up online here to receive the vaccine at the county’s clinics, which are at Norristown Area High School and Montgomery County Community College in Blue Bell. Invitations to schedule vaccine appointments are offered in order of valid registration, on a first-come, first-served basis, and no walk-up registrations are accepted.

The county also requires individuals to show proof of age (if getting vaccinated because they are 65 or older) or sign an attestation form (if getting vaccinated due to certain medical conditions). And officials have said vaccine supply remains “extremely limited” — even eligible residents should expect a wait of six weeks or longer between registration and appointment scheduling.

Individuals who live or work in Delaware County can pre-register for the vaccine by filling out the county’s online interest form. Those in Phase 1A who are currently eligible will receive a link to schedule a vaccine appointment when one is available. The vaccination locations are at Delaware County Wellness Center in Yeadon and at the Aston Community Center — vaccination is by appointment only, and no walk-up registrations are accepted. Private health care providers are also offering the vaccine, but are already booking well into the spring.

“Basically, 40% of all Delaware County residents fall into Phase 1A, which means that you got a lot of people who are in this priority group … we just don’t have the supply in order to really meet all of these people,” Delaware County Council member Kevin Madden told WHYY News. “The reality is there is a nationwide shortage.”

Those who aren’t in Phase 1A, but who are interested in receiving the vaccine when it becomes available later, can still fill out the same interest form to receive regular updates on distribution in the county. Note that Delaware County is currently administering just the Moderna vaccine, which is only approved for individuals 18 and older.

Berks County currently has no public county-wide sign-up site. Vaccine distribution is handled by local licensed health care providers — Tower Health, PennState Health and the Berks Community Health Center in Rockland — as well as select pharmacies. The county encourages individuals who are currently eligible for vaccination to refer to the Pennsylvania Vaccine Provider map, find a location close to them, and follow the steps to register if appointments are available.

Broke in PhillyWHYY is one of over 20 news organizations producing Broke in Philly, a collaborative reporting project on solutions to poverty and the city’s push towards economic justice. Follow us at @BrokeInPhilly.

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