Philly expands vaccine eligibility to people 16 and older

Individuals 16 and older can now receive the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, while people 18 and older can receive the Moderna vaccine.

Philadelphia announced on April 16 that all residents 16 and older are eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. | ALLIE IPPOLITO / THE TEMPLE NEWS

All Philadelphia residents 16 and older are now eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine as part of Phase 2 of the city’s vaccination plan, Health Commissioner Thomas Farley announced at the city’s weekly COVID-19 press briefing today. 

The city originally planned to expand vaccine eligibility to Phase 2 on April 19, The Temple News reported.

The expansion affects all vaccine providers in Philadelphia, like hospitals, clinics, community organizations, pharmacies and clinics managed by the city, according to a city press release.

“We heard from an increasing number of hospitals and pharmacies and our own mass vaccination sites that they’re having difficulty filling the vaccination slots, we don’t want the vaccination slots to go unused,” Farley said. 

Pennsylvania expanded vaccine eligibility to all adults 16 and older on April 13, though the change did not affect Philadelphia, 6ABC reported.

Individuals 16 and older can receive the two-dose Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, while people 18 and older can receive the two-dose Moderna vaccine, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines use mRNA technology and require doses 21 and 28 days apart respectively, according to the Philadelphia Department of Public Health.

The CDC and the United States Food and Drug Administration recommended a pause on the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine after six women between the ages of 18 and 48 developed a rare and severe blood clot six to 13 days after receiving the vaccine, according to the CDC. More than 6.8 million people have received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine nationwide.

Philadelphia residents can sign up to receive their vaccine by completing the city’s vaccine interest form, Farley said. Philadelphians who don’t have access to the Internet can call 311 and put their name in the database. Residents will be contacted by phone or email to schedule an appointment. Pharmacies, hospitals and clinics have their own online signups.

As of April 16, more than 649,000 Philadelphians have been partially vaccinated and more than 438,000 have been fully vaccinated, The Temple News reported.

The city is concerned about vaccination rates for residents 65 and older and encourages vaccine sites to give priority to people in this age group, Farley said. Vaccine clinics managed by the city will be inviting people 65 and older first. 

On March 31, Temple began administering the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at a six week, invitation-only clinic at White Hall, The Temple News reported. Eligible students, faculty and staff receive shots on Wednesdays and eligible residents receive them on Thursdays.

“There’s a lot of people who are unvaccinated, and so we’ve been through this period when it’s been hard for people to vaccinated, now it’s getting easier, and so it’s really an entirely new task for us now,” Farley said.

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