Simon Gratz vaccine clinic - in gym - 2021

Health care workers at Gratz High School Mastery Charter get ready to vaccinate residents at one of the city’s sites to make COVID-19 vaccines accessible.—Tribune Photo/Abdul R. Sulayman

All Philadelphians ages 16 and older will be eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine later on this month.

Health Commissioner Dr. Tom Farley announced that the city is moving to Phase 2 of its vaccination rollout on April 19 in accordance with President Joe Biden’s directive.

“While all adults are eligible this doesn’t mean that everyone is going to be vaccinated all at one time,” Farley said during a virtual press conference held on Tuesday afternoon.

“I still want to make sure that we focus on getting people vaccinated who are over the age of 65. The reason is that more than 80% of the people who died from this infection are over the age of 65.”

While the infection has been impacting a younger demographic in Philadelphia, Farley said more deaths could be prevented by ensuring that older people are vaccinated.

“People who are in their 20s and 30s are more likely to get infected but they generally don’t die from this infection,” Farley explained.

“They do well with this infection. On the other hand, people over the age of 65, if they get this infection, they have serious risk for dying from it.”

He said that not everyone who is eligible will be able to get vaccinated right away due to a limited supply of vaccines.

Philadelphia is experiencing an uptick in COVID-19 cases. The Department of Public Health Thursday announced 700 additional cases of COVID-19 novel coronavirus in Philadelphia, bringing the number of confirmed cases to 126,759. The department also announced 210 new probable cases from rapid antigen tests.

Farley said all groups in Phase 1C will become fully eligible to be vaccinated April 12. Those who will be eligible include government, elections and social services workers unpaid caregivers of medically vulnerable people and people receiving home and community-based services as defined by the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services.

This phase also includes higher education staff; public facing, non-remote positions in the finance industry; transportation workers such as airport and train workers and taxi or ride-hailing drivers; construction; information technology; legal industry; public health; telecommunications workers and members of the media.

The city began vaccinating select groups within the 1C category Monday, opening up eligibility to sanitation workers, maintenance staff, utility workers, postal and package delivery workers.

Guidance for remote workIn light of recently revised guidance from Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf’s administration regarding remote work, the city clarified that it currently allows office businesses to have up to two persons per 1,000 square feet — as long as people wear masks anytime there is more than one person in a room.

“The bottom line is that we still recommend that people who can work from home continue to do so,” Farley said.

“As more people are vaccinated in the coming weeks, the city is working with partners to prepare companies and employees so that when we can start returning to the office, they are ready to do so safely and efficiently.”

Walk-up Wednesdays at Health Department centersIn order to facilitate vaccinating as many Philadelphians over the age of 65, the Health Department announced the opening of three walk-up clinics at Health Centers. The centers will be using the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

Beginning April 7, the following Health Centers will hold walk-up hours between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m.: Health Center 3 Annex, 4219 Chester Ave. in West Philadelphia; Berks Street Annex (Health Center 5), 2001 W. Berks St. in North Philadelphia; and Health Center 10, East Side Courtyard entrance, 2230 Cottman Ave. in Northeast Philadelphia.

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