Philly makes push to up vaccine numbers amid Delta spread

A vaccine clinic was recently held at the Philadelphia Zoo.
Hughe Dillon

Philadelphia’s top health official suggested Monday that healthcare workers should find another job if they refuse to get a coronavirus vaccine.

At more than a dozen nursing homes in the city, the employee vaccination rate lags below 50%, according to Acting Health Commissioner Cheryl Bettigole.

They, along with all others employed at healthcare institutions in Philadelphia, are required to get a shot before Oct. 15, unless they qualify for a medical or religious exemption. Anyone who remains unvaccinated will be tested for COVID-19 twice a week.

Mandates, incentives and other initiatives aimed at boosting the number of people vaccinated have taken off in recent days, as the spread of the Delta variant has sparked an uptick in cases.

Long-term care facilities were among the most severely impacted when the virus came to the city a year-and-a-half ago.

“If you’re more committed to not getting the vaccine than to the safety of your patients, it’s time to do something else,” Bettigole told reporters. “Health care is not for you.”

A “Vax Up Philly Parade” on Broad Street featuring live performances and free inoculations is being planned for Sunday. Beginning at 11 a.m. at FDR Park, strutters will make their way up to City Hall and march toward Girard Avenue.

The event is “designed to raise awareness and build positivity around being vaccinated,” according to a post on the local Streets Dept blog, one of the parade’s organizers.

Meanwhile, anyone who receives a shot at a vaccine clinic Friday at the Montgomery County Community College’s Pottstown will have a chance to win free meat to feed a family of four for a year.

Vaccines will be available from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., and all attendees will get a free burger and chips.

Philly Teen Vaxx inoculated children over the age of 12 during an event Tuesday at the Philadelphia Zoo, and they will be holding upcoming clinics Thursday at Fels High School (for Fels students only) and Saturday at Adaire Elementary School.

Hughe Dillon

With city public schools preparing to reopen for full in-person instructions five days a week, the focus has turned to protecting children from infection.

A total of 38,401 Philadelphians between the ages of 12 and 17 have received at least one vaccine dose, according to the Department of Public Health.

Bettigole said 18,000 shots were distributed in the city last week, up from a recent weekly average of about 15,000.

Just over 78% of Philadelphia’s adult population is at least partially vaccinated, and 64% are fully vaccinated, according to city data.

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