When Sharmian Gregory received a call this month letting her know she was eligible to be vaccinated, she “jumped” on the offer.
“I’m waiting to get the second one,” said Gregory, 64, who lives on Croskey Street near Cecil B. Moore Avenue. “If we gotta continue getting them, that’s what I’m gonna do because I’m trying to stay alive.”
As the city expands vaccine eligibility to Phase 2, which includes all residents 16 and older, they face decisions about socializing with neighbors, family and friends. Although many are excited to see loved ones, they feel hesitant to do so as COVID-19 cases remain high. Some are opting to spend time with people who are also vaccinated, while others are continuing to keep a distance.
The city of Philadelphia recorded an average of 575 new COVID-19 cases per day from March 31 to April 14 and has recorded more than 140,000 cases since the beginning of the pandemic, The Temple News reported.
As of April 26, 7,134 residents in the 19121 ZIP code and 5,181 in the 19122 ZIP code are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, The Temple News reported.
Gregory received her first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine at Temple University’s White Hall clinic on April 8, she said.
The clinic opened at White Hall on March 31 and began administering first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to city residents on April 1, The Temple News reported. The university started administering second doses last week and will continue until May 6.
Gregory’s retired and lives at a senior living home, and while she’ll feel safer once she’s fully vaccinated, she doesn’t plan to see people in her apartment building, she said.
“I don’t sit around a bunch of people in my building,” Gregory said. “It’s only a five-story building, but I just don’t sit in those circles. Ever since [COVID-19] came out, I stayed away from circles.”
Those living in congregated or shared housing should social distance and wear masks in shared spaces and alter schedules to avoid close contact during meals or activities, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Gregory doesn’t visit her daughter and granddaughter without wearing her mask and only takes it off when she’s eating, she added.
The COVID-19 vaccine prevents vaccinated people from contracting the virus but may not prevent transmission between individuals, according to the CDC. Vaccinated individuals should continue following COVID-19 guidelines, like wearing a mask and social distancing, when in public places.
Fully vaccinated individuals can safely gather indoors with other fully vaccinated people without wearing a mask and can visit unvaccinated people who are at a low risk for COVID-19-related complications from a single household without wearing a mask, according to the CDC.
Partially vaccinated and unvaccinated people should wear a mask, stay six feet apart from others and avoid crowds, according to the CDC.
People are considered fully vaccinated for COVID-19 two weeks after they received the second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines or two weeks after they received a single dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, according to the CDC.
James Allen, 22, a cashier at Strictly Seafood on Cecil B. Moore Avenue near 17th Street, got his first shot of the Moderna vaccine at a Philadelphia FIGHT health center, a nonprofit health organization about two and a half weeks ago, he said.
Allen will feel more comfortable being around his friends and people in his apartment building on Eighth Street near Girard Avenue once he is fully vaccinated, though he still plans to wear a mask outside and continue social distancing, he said.
“To know that I’m not making anything more difficult for other people as well as that it’s like insurance,” Allen said. “It’s like car insurance, you have it, you don’t really expect to get in an accident, but when it comes to the situation and you have it, you feel good you have it.”
Kevin Simpson lives on Jefferson Street near 17th and hasn’t been vaccinated yet but plans to in the next few weeks, he said.
Simpson, 64, who helps take out trash in his neighborhood, said his brother and many of his neighbors are vaccinated. He hasn’t seen many of his neighbors socialize more but can tell they feel more comfortable at their jobs and around the neighborhood.
“A lot of them just want to be safe, they have families,” he added. “That’s what it’s about, being safe, that’s all.”
Pratip Chakraborty, a 28-year-old postdoctoral scholar at Rutgers University: New Brunswick and a 2020 chemistry doctorate alumnus, received his second dose of the Pfizer vaccine on March 26.
Chakraborty, who lives on 15th Street near Masters, got vaccinated at the Pennsylvania Convention Center’s Federal Emergency Management Agency-backed clinic with his friends.
He’s fully vaccinated now and only sees friends without a mask who are also fully vaccinated, and he wears a mask in public spaces, he said.
“I’m still wearing mask wherever I’m going and yes, still using hand sanitizer, still washing hands and carrying on like before and until more or less like a particular number of maybe 60, 70 percent of the population gets vaccinated,” he said.