More vaccine sites coming to Philadelphia

Jeffrey Doucette, chief nursing office at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, administers a COVID-19 vaccine to Jennifer Gil.
PHOTO: Thomas Jefferson University Photography Services

Doses of the novel coronavirus vaccine will soon be available at mass clinics and pharmacies around the city, officials said Tuesday.

Philadelphia Health Commissioner Thomas Farley said his department will be setting up three clinics a week — vaccinating 500 people a day — beginning Feb. 22. Additional sites will provide second doses.

This week, three Shoprite locations and 20 Walgreens pharmacies will begin receiving and distributing vaccines, and people will be contacted for appointments in the coming days, Farley said.

Rite Aid, which has been vaccinating healthcare workers at 26 stores in Philadelphia, will be shifting its focus to people age 75 and older later this month.

In all cases, Farley said, scheduling will be coordinated through the city’s vaccine interest form at phila.gov/vaccineinterest. Residents without internet access can call a COVID-19 hotline at 215-685-5488.

Additional doses of the vaccine will begin being shipped to Shop Rites and Rite Aids in the area next week as part of a federal partnership aimed at accelerating the immunization campaign, officials said.

Hospitals have been inviting patients to come and get vaccinated, though Farley said he is now encouraging medical centers to hold mass clinics.

Inoculations, to this point, have been limited, mainly to healthcare workers and staff and residents at nursing homes.

Teams continue to vaccinate people at nursing, assisted living and personal care homes, Farley said.

Firefighters, police officers, employees at the city’s jail complex and staff who work with vulnerable populations have also begun receiving injections, Farley said, adding that public transit workers are next in line.

People 75 and older and those with certain medical conditions, including cancer, chronic kidney disease and organ transplant, are also eligible for vaccination.

Vaccines are administered to Temple Health personnel. PHOTO: Pool

Farley said people who qualify through their workplace should check with their employers about getting a vaccine. Individuals can reach out to their health provider and fill out the vaccine interest form.

Officials said Philadelphia’s vaccine allotment remains steady at about 20,000 doses a week. Half of the shipment is Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, which must be kept in ultra-cold freezer units.

Farley said 105,306 people in the city have received their first dose, while 36,348 have received both injections.

Outside the city, there have been more than 1 million doses administered to a total of 822,818 people in Pennsylvania. State leaders are handling the vaccine roll-out outside of Philadelphia.

Case counts have been falling. Philadelphia averaged 388 new infections a day last week with a 6% positive test rate, compared to the prior week’s 424 cases and 6.7%.

“Those case counts are still high,” Farley told reporters during a virtual briefing. “We still need to take precautions, but it is good to see the downward trend.”

Seven cases of the B.1.1.7 variant, which was first recognized in the United Kingdom, have been identified in Philadelphia. More have likely occurred, since samples are not routinely tested for the strain, which is more contagious.

City officials reported 382 cases Tuesday and 12 coronavirus-related deaths, and, statewide, there were 4,410 infections and 125 fatalities.

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