City explains next steps for COVID-19 vaccine distribution

by Kate Dolan
Posted 1/18/21

Currently in Phase 1A, the first phase of COVID-19 vaccination, the city announced which residents will be eligible for the vaccine in Phase 1B and Phase 1C.


In Phase 1B, frontline …

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City explains next steps for COVID-19 vaccine distribution


Currently in Phase 1A, the first phase of COVID-19 vaccination, the city announced which residents will be eligible for the vaccine in Phase 1B and Phase 1C.

In Phase 1B, frontline essential workers, such as first responders, grocery store workers, childcare workers, teachers, people who live and work in congregate settings such as homeless shelters and rehab facilities, and those over 75 or those between the ages of 16 and 64 with high-risk medical conditions like heart disease and diabetes will be eligible for the vaccine.

Phase 1C allows for other essential workers including but not limited to sanitation workers and postal and package delivery workers, and those in the age group of 65-74 without high-risk medical conditions to be vaccinated.

For more details of priority populations and who is in each group, the city has published a list on its website here:

Currently, the city is vaccinating health care workers who are directly exposed to the virus, as part of Phase 1A. Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley explained that because it is not known how many doses of the vaccine will be allocated to Philadelphia on a weekly basis after January, it is difficult to say when the next groups will be eligible, but he estimates that Phase 1B may start in late January.

“Now the Phase 1B group is a large group, especially because of those people with high-risk medical conditions,” said Farley at Tuesday’s COVID-19 update press conference. “We’ll likely be in this group vaccinating for people for months unless the vaccine production accelerates or another vaccine is approved. But we’ll not wait to complete phase 1B before we start phase 1C.”

Put together by a local vaccine advisory committee made up of health care experts, representatives from faith-based organizations, social service and community organizations, and insurers, the group established the list based on federal recommendations while making adjustments to account for Philadelphia’s unique characteristics.

“The Local list differs from the federal and the commonwealth list, and the people under the age of 74 who have these high-risk medical conditions are in phase 1B instead of phase 1C,” said Farley. “Why is that? That’s because these medical conditions are common in low income populations and minority populations. We have higher rates of them here in Philadelphia than elsewhere, it’s a more important risk factor here and it's one way for us to address the racial disparity in COVID mortality here in Philadelphia.”

As the vaccine becomes more available and eligibility widens in the future, residents will be able to receive it at a combination of places, similar to how the flu vaccine is distributed, according to Farley. This includes hospitals, urgent care centers, heath care clinics, pharmacies and on site at nursing homes and homeless shelters.

Last week, the mass vaccination clinic set up at the Pennsylvania Convention Center vaccinated 2,500 people in two days. Rite-Aid, in partnership with the Philadelphia Department of Public Health, vaccinated 1,959 people and Walgreens and CVS vaccinated 3,732 people on site at roughly 20 nursing homes. As of Tuesday morning, the city had vaccinated a total of 50,529 people with the first dose and 9,600 had received the second dose.

As more information becomes available, a more detailed plan will be developed and disseminated by the city.

As of Friday morning, 630 new cases of COVID-19 were identified bringing the total number of confirmed cases in the city since March to 99,963. The total number of fatalities in the city is 2,712 after 29 deaths were announced on Friday.

vaccination, coronavirus