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A patient recieves a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at the FEMA-run vaccine site at the Pennsylvania Convention Center on March 2, 2021. Photo: Nigel Thompson/ AL DÍA News.
A patient recieves a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at the FEMA-run vaccine site at the Pennsylvania Convention Center on March 2, 2021. Photo: Nigel Thompson/ AL DÍA News.

What to know about getting a COVID-19 vaccine in Philadelphia

Slowly but surely, vaccine access across the city is opening up, but it can be a lot of information to process.

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At the soft-opening of the FEMA-run COVID-19 mass vaccination clinic at the Pennsylvania Convention Center on Tuesday, March 2, Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney said the federal government coming to town with its own allotment of vaccines would go a long way in helping the city reach further into its neighborhoods with its own supply.

Philly is one of five U.S. cities to receive its vaccine supply directly from the federal government, and right now, it gets a weekly allotment of approximately 25,000 doses.

The Convention Center site

The mass vaccination clinic at the PA Convention Center will be open seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., and is shooting to administer 6,000 doses a day. It will operate for the next eight weeks.

Those eligible to get a vaccine there are still those within phases 1A and 1B of the city’s rollout plan, which includes healthcare workers, residents and staff of long-term care facilities, first responders, public transit workers, teachers, food service workers, anyone over the age of 75 or with high-risk medical conditions like pregnancy, obesity, cancer, diabetes, and heart disease.

They must also have signed up for a vaccine via the city’s vaccine interest form. It is available in English, Spanish, Chinese, French, and Vietnamese. Those eligible can also get on the list by calling 311.

Community mass-vaccination sites

In addition to the site at the convention center, the city also opened three mass vaccination clinics last week at the Martin Luther King Jr. Older Adult Center in North Philadelphia, the Community Academy of Philadelphia Charter School in Harrowgate, and the University of Sciences in West Philadelphia.

Each is an effort to target eligible residents in phase 1B within underserved communities.

“There’s been this discussion about these large-scale facilities, and that’s all great — drive-throughs, Convention Center — but the people live here,” City Council President Darrell Clarke told WHYY at the opening of the first clinic at the Martin Luther King Jr. Older Adult Center.

In addition to being within phase 1b, prospective vaccine recipients also must have filled out the city’s vaccine interest form to get an invite.

The three community clinics will operate twice a week and the city hopes to vaccinate 500 people per day at each location with the capacity to eventually process 3,000 per week. One day will be reserved for receiving the first doses, while the second is for the final booster shot.

Philadelphia Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley said the city-run mass clinics would operate until the need subsided.

The exact addresses are as follows:

Martin Luther King Jr. Older Adult Center: 2101 Cecil B. Moore Ave. #35, Philadelphia, PA 19121

Community Academy of Philadelphia Charter School: 1100 Erie Ave., Philadelphia, PA 19124

University of the Sciences: 600 S 43rd St., Philadelphia, PA 19104

The CHOP Partnership

As part of phase 1B, teachers are eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, and the issue of their vaccination alongside all school staff has been a major concern for the teacher’s union ahead of the reopening of schools in the city.

To help the effort, the city has partnered with the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) to create a program to vaccinate all school staff in Philadelphia public, charter, independent, and parochial schools, in addition to childcare centers and pre-K providers. 

The program plans to hold some pop-up clinics at select school buildings throughout the district in the coming weeks.

Other distribution options

Beyond the mass vaccination sites and pop-up clinics, the city can also distributes its vaccine allotment to more than 100 eligible providers across the city that include chain pharmacies (like Walgreens and Rite Aid), independent pharmacies, hospitals, health clinics, specialty care facilities, congregate settings, community groups, and urgent care centers.

For these providers, both the Philadelphia Health Department and Billy Penn have created detailed maps to pinpoint the locations of entities eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. 

NOTE: Do not use the maps to request appointments. Just because they are eligible to receive vaccine doses does not mean they have received any.

This article is part of Broke in Philly, a collaborative reporting project among more than 20 news organizations focused on economic mobility in Philadelphia. Read all of our reporting at brokeinphilly.org.

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