Philadelphia expands vaccine eligibility to all adults

Thomas W. Munson receives his second dose of COVID-19 vaccine from registered nurse Elizabeth Lash

Thomas W. Munson receives his second dose of COVID-19 vaccine from registered nurse Elizabeth Lash at a Sayre Health clinic held at Tablenacle Lutheran Church in West Philadelphia. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

All Philadelphia residents over the age of 16 are now eligible to receive vaccinations, Philadelphia Health Commissioner Thomas Farley announced Friday.

The city had planned to open eligibility to all adults on Monday, but vaccine providers were reporting difficulties filling appointments so the city decided to move up the date.

“We don’t want those vaccination slots to go unused,” Farley said.

All vaccine providers in Philadelphia, including hospitals, clinics, pharmacies, community organizations are included in the order.  As vaccination efforts expand, Farley urged all Philadelphians over the age of 65  to get vaccinated as soon as possible. City clinics, he said, would continue to prioritize seniors and do targeted outreach to reach vulnerable populations.

A testing site finder at phila.gov/testing helps people find a free COVID-19 test in Philadelphia. Anyone can search for a site by address, click on a map location for specific site information, and filter by day of week and by drive-thru or walk-up.

Rising Philadelphia case counts

Even as Philadelphia moves toward herd immunity with about 40% of the adult population vaccinated, Thomas Farley said he is worried about rising COVID -19 case counts.

Farley reported the city is averaging over 600 cases per day and is approaching 40 deaths per week.

“I’m worried that people believe that the problem is behind us and it’s not behind us,” Farley said

Experts have said that about 70% of a population must be vaccinated for herd immunity against the virus.

Gov. Wolf to get first vaccine dose Monday

Gov. Tom Wolf plans to get his first vaccine shot on Monday and fellow Pennsylvanians should follow his lead if they haven’t already gotten their jabs, he said during a Friday visit to Penn State Health Vaccination Clinic in Hershey.

“The more people who get vaccinated the safer all of us are going to be and the sooner we can get out of this,” Wolf said.

More than 40% of Pennsylvanians have received at least one vaccine dose and 20% have received a second dose, the governor said.

Earlier this week, state officials opened up vaccine eligibility to all residents over the age of 16.  Vaccines are currently available in Philadelphia for people in Phase 1A, 1B, and 1C.

Johnson & Johnson vaccine won’t be used for at least another week

The governor also addressed vaccine hesitancy and the pause on distribution of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine due to rare cases of blood clots in those who’ve received the shot — six out of nearly 7 million.

“I think what it really does is give us some more reason to be confident that these vaccines have been safe,”  Wolf said.

With more vaccines available, Wolf said vaccine hesitancy is a concern for officials in getting people vaccinated.

“We’re not seeing an uptick in waste,” Acting Secretary of Health Alison Beam said. “The appointment availability does give us cause for concern though. Because that’s indicative of the hesitancy which really is the challenge to come.”

State officials planned to administer the one-dose Johnson and Johnson vaccine to frontline workers—including food and agriculture workers, corrections workers, and people in corrections—to expedite the vaccine process. Those efforts have been put on pause until next Friday.

Beam said those who were supposed to receive the vaccine will be vaccinated but through a contingency plan that uses the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines.

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