Farley discusses COVID vaccination rollout

By Kate Dolan
Posted 1/11/21

Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley provided updates of the city’s COVID-19 vaccination rollout, acknowledging the obstacles to swifter vaccination of Philadelphia residents.

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Farley discusses COVID vaccination rollout

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Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley provided updates of the city’s COVID-19 vaccination rollout, while acknowledging the obstacles to swifter vaccination of Philadelphia residents. This includes a limited number of doses.

The city received 9,750 of the Pfizer vaccine and 9,500 doses of the Moderna vaccine this week. The Philadelphia Department of Public Health was informed that this amount is what the city can expect for the rest of January.

“To be clear, in a city of 1.6 million people, this is not enough,” said Dr. Farley at Tuesday’s COVID-19 update press conference. “At this rate, it’ll take more than twelve months to vaccinate the entire population of the city of Philadelphia. We certainly hope that the delivery of vaccines to us increases.”

The city is in the process of vaccinating those in the first priority group — health care workers that are exposed to the virus, and staff and residents at nursing homes. As of Friday, according to the city’s website, 39,507 first doses have been administered since December 16.

“We’re managing with the small number of doses we’re getting to us each week,” he said. “And we’re managing around the complexity of handling these vaccines which have their own storage requirements, and the fact that we’re vaccinating during a pandemic and we have a limit of the distribution over the holidays.”

Dr. Farley attributes the limited availability of the vaccine to the fact that it is a new product and cannot be produced quickly enough to meet the demand across the country. Even so, the city is working on expanding sites to vaccinate people.

The first mass vaccine clinic opened on Friday morning in Center City at the Pennsylvania Convention Center to vaccinate health care workers, including home health care workers who work outside of hospitals and may not have direct access to the vaccine. The clinic is operated by Philly Fighting COVID and the Philadelphia Department of Public Health and has the capacity to vaccinate 100-450 people per hour according to the Philadelphia Inquirer which reported Friday morning that the clinic aims to vacate 2,400 home health care workers over the next two days.

The city is also working with 26 Rite Aid locations to serve as vaccination sites. These are only open to those in the first priority group who have received an invitation and have made an appointment.

Dr. Farley urged patience among Philadelphia residents, explaining that the first priority group is large. The next group eligible for the vaccine will be frontline essential workers.

“Those are people who are exposed to many other people daily as part of their job and are at risk of acquiring the infection and then transmitting it to people who themselves might be vulnerable,” he said. “Even that group though, we are not likely to get to for weeks.

Information about eligibility groups can be found here on the CDC website: www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/recommendations.html

More information and expanded vaccination sites will be available as more doses are received and more people become eligible for the vaccine.

The city’s Safer at Home restrictions were lifted this week for less risky settings, including museums and gyms. Indoor dining will be able to resume once the Safer at Home restrictions for the riskier settings expire on January 15 only if cases do not spike. Details will be announced at next week’s press conference on Tuesday, January 12.

As of Friday morning (January 8), 629 new cases of COVID-19 were identified, bringing the total number of cases since the beginning of the pandemic to 96,088. The number of deaths announced on Friday was 23, bringing the total number to 2,596 fatalities among city residents. The number of patients currently being treated for the virus in Philadelphia hospitals is 651, with 81 of those patients on ventilators.

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