Pennsylvania expanded COVID-19 vaccine access to everyone over age 65 and people 16 and older with high-risk medical conditions — but the new guidelines do not apply in Philadelphia.
The City of Philadelphia has a separate vaccine jurisdiction from Pennsylvania, so it's guidelines differ slightly from the state. Health Commissioner Thomas Farley told The Philadelphia Inquirer that the city does not plan to expand vaccinations to residents age 65 and over at this time.
The city's system was developed with an emphasis on racial equity, and is thereby focused on vaccinating people with high-risk conditions common among Black residents rather than expanding access to all residents who are 65 and over, according to the Inquirer.
Under the new state guidelines, older residents and those with high-risk conditions are now included in phase 1A to align with federal recommendations, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported. Previously, these individuals were scheduled to get the vaccine just before the general public.
High-risk conditions that produce vaccine eligibility in Pennsylvania include cancer, heart conditions, and pregnancy, according to the Department of Health. Residents can take a quiz on the Department of Health website to determine if they are currently eligible to receive the vaccine and use a map of locations that may have vaccine doses available.
As of Wednesday, Pennsylvania has recorded over 780,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases, including over 105,000 cases in Philadelphia. The United States has currently reached more than 24 million confirmed cases and 400,000 deaths.
Philadelphia will begin vaccinating residents over age 75 and those with certain high-risk health conditions this week as part of phase 1B, which the city entered on Tuesday, the Inquirer reported.
Conflicts between city and federal vaccine regulations have complicated the vaccine rollout. Last week, the Perelman School of Medicine announced that higher-education employees will be prioritized for the vaccine and placed in 1B, violating Philadelphia’s prioritization rules but complying with federal recommendations.
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