More groups have been added to Phase 1C, including people receiving home and community-based services.
All Philadelphians who fit Phase 1C criteria will become eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine on Monday, April 12.
The expanded eligibility covers higher education staff; public facing, non-remote positions in the finance industry; transportation workers such as airport and train workers and taxi or rideshare drivers; construction workers; IT & telecommunications workers; members of the press; legal industry; and public health workers.
At Tuesday’s COVID-19 update press conference, Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley also added more groups to Phase 1C, including people receiving home and community-based services as defined by the PA Department of Human Services, and unpaid caregivers of medically vulnerable people. Additional categories eligible will be workers in landscaping, government, elections, and social services.
Philadelphia will move to Phase 2 eligibility of the vaccine roll-out on April 19, moved up from May 1. In Phase 2, all residents over 16 are eligible to receive the vaccine.
More than 80% of the people who die from COVID-19 are over the age of 65 and Dr. Farley continues to urge this group to get the vaccine.
“My message to Philadelphia residents is, if you are over age 65, sign up now and get vaccinated as soon as possible,” said Dr. Farley. “Don’t delay, this epidemic wave is significant.”
Dr. Farley urged providers to make access easier to these residents. Three of the city health centers run by the Philadelphia Department of Public Health will offer vaccine walk-up access to those over 65 on Wednesdays, from 8 a.m. - 4 p.m.
“Walk-Up Wednesdays” will take place at the Health Center 3 Annex at 4219 Chester Ave.; the Berks Street Annex (Health Center 5) at 2001 West Berks St.; and Health Center 10, East Side Courtyard entrance at 2230 Cottman Ave.
As of Thursday morning, April 8, city data shows that the city has administered at least one dose of the vaccine to 227,534 people and has fully vaccinated 350,321 people. Not all are Philadelphia residents, and some city residents are being vaccinated outside of the city. The data is incomplete but by comparing city data with CDC data, Dr. Farley said, “we know that 25% of Philadelphia residents now have had at least one dose.”
“But still there are many more people who are unvaccinated then there are vaccinated,” said Dr. Farley. “And of the people over the age of 65, about 45% have been vaccinated with at least one dose. Which means that there still are many people who are over the age of 65 and vulnerable who are unprotected.”
Cases continue to rise in the city, with the city’s daily average and positivity rate “roughly doubling over the last six weeks.” For the week ending on April 3, there was an average of 507 cases reported each day and the positivity rate was 8.7%. The rise in cases is greater among the 20-54 age groups, but the rise is happening across the population. Hospitalizations have increased but resources are not under strain, according to Dr. Farley.
On Friday morning, 626 new cases were announced bringing the total number of confirmed cases in Philadelphia to 128,535 since the beginning of the pandemic. In Philadelphia hospitals, 466 were being treated for COVID-19 on Friday morning.
There have been an average of 20-30 deaths per week in late February and in March. On Friday morning, 18 new deaths were reported, bringing the total number of COVID-19 fatalities among Philadelphia residents to 3,333.
“This is a number that we are watching very closely,” said Dr. Farley of the number of deaths. “To see if it’s rising with the increase in cases or if it doesn’t rise, which might be an indication that the vaccination is preventing people from dying even it is not preventing the epidemic wave from hitting the city.”