Philadelphia extends vaccine eligibility to clergy, people with intellectual disabilities

The expansion comes as the city’s vaccine allocation from the federal government has stabilized.

Philadelphia announced it will be expanding its Phase 1B vaccine eligibility on March 19. | ALLIE IPPOLITO / THE TEMPLE NEWS

Philadelphia is expanding its COVID-19 vaccine eligibility to include clergy members, individuals with intellectual disabilities, staff at senior centers or day programs for people with intellectual disabilities and those who take immune-suppressing medications, according to a city press release.

The city decided to include clergy members because places of worship are beginning to open across the city, said Health Commissioner Thomas Farley at the city’s COVID-19 vaccine briefing today. 

People with intellectual disabilities are now included after a Jefferson Health study found that they may have a higher COVID-19 mortality rate, Farley added. The city is also expanding its definition of immunosuppression to include anyone who takes immune-suppressing medications.

Philadelphia is currently in Phase 1B of its vaccine distribution plan, which includes some essential workers, individuals 65 years and older, people with high-risk medical conditions and people who work or live in congregate settings.

Philadelphia has partially vaccinated 402,123 and fully vaccinated 156,854 people, as of March 17, The Temple News reported.

Farley expects Philadelphia to be in Phase 1C, which includes essential workers like sanitation, transportation and maintenance staff, by April, and he expects to be in Phase 2, which includes anyone 16 and older who has not been vaccinated, on May 1, The Temple News reported.

The city’s vaccine allocation from the federal government has stabilized after week-to-week increases of supply, Farley said. Philadelphia will not be receiving additional increases of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine in the next three weeks and the city does not know whether they will be getting additional doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, he said. 

Philadelphia has allowed individuals from “under-vaccinated” ZIP codes, including 19122, which encompasses Main Campus, to receive walk-up COVID-19 vaccinations at the Federal Emergency Management Agency vaccination site at the Pennsylvania Convention Center since March 17, The Temple News reported.

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