Philadelphia expands vaccine eligibility as supply of doses levels off

The city is broadening eligibility as places of worship opens up and more research on COVID-19 mortality comes out.

A resident of Philadelphia’s Nicetown neighborhood receives the COVID-19 vaccine

A resident of Philadelphia’s Nicetown neighborhood receives the COVID-19 vaccine at Simon Gratz High School Mastery Charter at a mass community vaccination site on March 15, 2021. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

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Philadelphia is broadening eligibility for the coronavirus vaccine to include people with intellectual disabilities, anyone who takes immune-suppressing medication and members of the clergy.

These groups are being added to phase 1B, which includes frontline essential workers and people over the age of 65 and people with high-risk medical conditions.  The new groups will be added to the 1B category, effective immediately, Philadelphia Health Commissioner Thomas Farley announced Friday.

The eligibility expansion comes as the city’s vaccine supply is leveling off after weeks of increasing amounts of doses coming from the federal government, according to Farley.

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“We’re going to have to watch carefully to make sure that the supply of the vaccine coming into the city meets our ability to deliver it in the city,” Farley said.

The city added clergy in 1B because more places of worship were opening back up, and people with intellectual disabilities after a Thomas Jefferson University study found that the group had a higher COVID-19 mortality rate, Farley said. Advocates and families affected by autism and other disabilities had pushed for the change, citing significant losses and vulnerability in the community.

As of Thursday, 402,000 people received their first doses in Philadelphia, and 156,000 people received their second doses, the city reported.

The FEMA vaccination site at the Pennsylvania Convention Center is set to hit a milestone today of having vaccinated 100,000 people—13% were Black and 11% were Latino.

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