Kaamil Jones missed his World Affairs class once in January and once in February to get his first and second shots of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine.
But his professor didn’t mind.
“He was ecstatic for me, actually,” said Jones, a junior journalism major. “He was like, ‘You’re a very lucky person. Congratulations.’”
Navigating a cumbersome distribution process between national, state and city coordination, some Temple University students who fall into Philadelphia’s Phase 1A and Phase 1B categories are receiving vaccinations for COVID-19 almost a year after the outbreak was declared a pandemic. Following weeks of waiting for appointments and finding providers, students are relieved to be some of the first among their peers to receive their shots.
Pennsylvania is currently administering vaccines to people in its Phase 1A category, which includes health care workers, residents in long-term care facilities and all persons ages 65 and older. People ages 16 and older are also eligible if they suffer from medical conditions like cancer, chronic kidney disease or coronary artery disease, The Temple News reported.
Philadelphia accelerated its vaccine distribution in January, vaccinating members of its 1B category, which includes essential workers like teachers, transit workers and first responders, The Temple News reported. Members of the 1A category, like hospital staff and workers in long-term care facilities, are also still eligible.
Temple is working with the city to create a vaccination plan for its population and nearby residents, wrote President Richard Englert in an announcement Monday in which the university also announced it will hold mostly in-person classes for the Fall 2021 semester.
As of March 1, 210,654 Philadelphians have received their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine while 101,983 have received a second dose, The Temple News reported.
The two available COVID-19 vaccines in the United States, developed by Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech, use mRNA technology to help make antibodies against COVID-19 and require two doses given several weeks apart, according to the Philadelphia Department of Public Health.
On Feb. 27, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued an emergency use authorization for a vaccine developed by Johnson & Johnson, making it the third vaccine available in the U.S, and distribution could start today, NBC News reported. The vaccine showed 85 percent effectiveness at preventing severe disease and requires only one dose.
To sign up to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, Philadelphians can register through the city by completing an interest form on the Philadelphia Department of Public Health website. The form became available on Jan. 21 and asks residents for their address, contact information and if they work in a health care setting. Residents will also have to select if they suffer from a variety of health conditions.
The city operates three mass vaccination sites at the Martin Luther King Adult Center on Cecil B. Moore Avenue near 22nd St, University of Sciences in Philadelphia on 42nd Street near Woodland Avenue and the Community Academy of Philadelphia on Erie Avenue near K Street.
On Feb. 19, the Federal Emergency Management Agency announced it is partnering with the city to operate a vaccination site tomorrow at the Pennsylvania Convention Center, The Temple News reported.
Residents can also receive the vaccine by registering with other health care organizations. Jones received his Moderna vaccine through the Black Doctors COVID-19 Consortium, a nonprofit COVID-19 vaccine and testing organization that is running vaccine clinics throughout the city. The consortium operated the city’s first 24-hour vaccination clinic for those in Phase 1B and select ZIP codes at the Liacouras Center on Feb. 19, The Temple News reported.
Jones signed up to be vaccinated through the consortium in January because he works in food preparation as a hostess at Parc restaurant in Rittenhouse Square and is frequently worried about his exposure to COVID-19 at work, he said.
“As places were opening up registry sites, I just signed up to a whole bunch of them,” Jones added. “Any one that I saw, I just signed up and was just going to choose whoever called me back first.”
The Black Doctors Consortium then notified him of an appointment for his first shot on Jan. 28 at Deliverance Evangelistic Church on Lehigh Avenue near 20th Street and scheduled his second dose for Feb. 25.
The Black Doctors Consortium is no longer using online registration for COVID-19 vaccines, Billy Penn reported in a tweet.
The consortium is hosting walk-up vaccination clinics at the Liacouras Center on March 2 and March 6 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m for people 75 and older and residents in the city’s Phase 1B category in “hardest hit” ZIP codes defined by the organization, which are: 19104, 19119, 19120, 19121, 19123, 19126, 19131, 19132, 19133, 19138, 19139, 19140, 19141, 19142, 19143, 19144, 19146, 19150, 19151 and 19153.
The consortium will also be offering second shots of the Moderna vaccine at Christian Stronghold Baptist Church on Lancaster Avenue near 48th Street on March 4 and March 5 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Dr. Ala Stanford, founder of the Black Doctors COVID-19 Consortium, is happy to host a vaccine clinic near Temple’s Main Campus but wants to ensure residents that are most vulnerable have access to the vaccine first, she said.
“I’m obviously appreciative of Liacouras [Center], but I am not going to allow folks to take advantage, no more than we allow affluent folks to come into poor neighborhoods and take vaccines,” she said.
Stanford has vaccinated students with eligible medical conditions and hopes to vaccinate more students when the city expands eligibility to their 1C category and beyond, she added. Individuals in the 1C category include sanitation workers, utility workers and postal and package delivery workers.
The city will likely not expand its eligibility to the 1C category until the end of April, 6ABC reported. After the city moves past Phase 1C, anyone 16 and older will be eligible to be vaccinated in Phase 2.
“I hope all those kids show up because I’m going to need a good doctor one day and I’m sure some of them are science majors,” Stanford said. “I would be happy to serve them.”
Each state orders vaccine shipments and develops plans for distribution, according to the Department of Health and Human Services.
Vaccinations are now increasing as the U.S. is administering 1.73 million doses per day, up from 1.3 million doses per day on Jan. 25, according to Bloomberg’s COVID-19 Vaccine Tracker.
On Dec. 1, 2020, the CDC recommended health care workers and residents in long-term care facilities are prioritized in distribution.
Emily Chrupcala, a junior health information management major who works in the radiology department at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, received her first of the Moderna vaccine on Dec. 22, 2020.
“I came into work and I thought it was just a normal day but then everyone was vaccinated,” Chrupcala said. “It was right before Christmas, so it was an early Christmas present.”
When she received her second dose on Jan. 21, Chrupcala listened to her online class in her car while driving an hour to Abington-Lansdale Hospital from Jefferson Health, she said.
While she’s relieved to have protection from COVID-19, she still hopes people who need the vaccine more than her are able to access it, she said.
“There’s so many people out there who haven’t gotten it who also deserve to get it more than me because I’m still young and healthy,” Chrupcala added.
Quinn McHugh, a senior public health major, became eligible to be vaccinated because their virtual internship with Safe Kids Worldwide, a nonprofit organization that works to combat childhood injuries, might soon require in-person work.
They received their first dose on Jan. 20 and their second dose on Feb. 17, both at the Bell Building on Main Campus as part of the College of Public Health’s vaccination program.
The College of Public Health is vaccinating some people associated with the college, including students, faculty and staff in clinical settings, The Temple News reported.
Pennsylvania is additionally distributing some vaccine doses to pharmacies like Rite Aid, CVS and Walgreens, where appointments for the vaccine at the pharmacy are available to eligible residents through the federal Pharmacy Partnership Program, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Health.
Ryan Feuerstein, a senior sport and recreation management major, signed up to receive a COVID-19 vaccine through multiple organizations and clinics in January because he has eligible medical conditions.
He was scheduled to receive a vaccine at Rite Aid on Broad Street near Girard on Feb. 24. However, Feuerstein received a notification from the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia on Feb. 21 that he could receive it on Feb. 22 through their vaccination program, so he got his first dose of the Pfizer vaccine then.
“The process itself was overwhelmingly stressful because of how hard it is to get [a] shot,” Feuerstein said. “I got lucky getting the Rite Aid appointment as soon as those were made available. That would have been for the Moderna and I mean when I was called to get in a couple of days early I said, ‘Screw it, why not just get it earlier, get it over with?’”
Feuerstein said getting his first shot was “quick and painless,” but his arm was a bit sore afterward. Some people can have side effects to receiving the vaccine, like pain or swelling in a person’s arm, headaches or tiredness a day or two after receiving it, according to the CDC.
Feuerstein is excited to get his second shot on March 14 so he can feel more comfortable doing activities like playing baseball when seasons start around April, he said.
Between 70 and 85 percent of the U.S. population needs to be vaccinated to achieve herd immunity, said Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, in a Dec. 20, 2020, interview on CNN. Herd immunity will allow for the loosening of social restrictions designed to limit the spread of COVID-19, Fauci said.
Other experts say the U.S. will reach herd immunity by vaccinating between 65 and 80 percent of the population, CNN reported on Feb. 26.
At the current pace of the national rollout for COVID-19 vaccinations, 70 percent of the U.S. population may be vaccinated by Sept. 10 and 90 percent by Nov. 20, the New York Times reported on March 1.
Jones is excited to see his roommates who work in restaurants also get vaccinated soon. He used to only leave his house to go to his job and his two in-person classes, but now may start doing more activities, he said. Mostly, he’s just relieved to be able to worry less about getting sick.
“I feel completely different about everything pretty much like, I mean, I’m just happier to like not be on edge all the time,” Jones added.