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Penn will begin administering the COVID-19 vaccine to all students on April 19. 

Credit: Jonah Charlton

Penn will begin administering the COVID-19 vaccine to a select group of Penn community members on April 14, and to all students on April 19.

Faculty, staff, and postdoctoral students who are Philadelphia residents are eligible to sign up to receive the vaccine at the on-campus vaccination site in Pottruck Health and Fitness Center's Gimbel Gymnasium on April 14,  April 15, and April 16 through the University's scheduling platform, according to an email sent by top Penn administrators on Monday. Penn will be administering the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine these three days, meaning participants must sign up to receive their second dose approximately four weeks later, on either May 13 or May 14.

Residential advisors and graduate associates will also be eligible to receive the vaccine this week and will receive further communication on when and how to sign up shortly, Deputy Provost Beth Winkelstein wrote in an emailed statement to all RAGAs on Tuesday morning.

Vaccination appointment times for the week of April 19, when all adults in Philadelphia become eligible under Phase 2 of the city's rollout plan, will be released on the scheduling platform by Friday afternoon. Chief Wellness Officer Benoit Dubé said that Penn does not know the quantity, nor the type, of vaccines it will be able to offer next week, as both are completely dependent upon what the city is able to provide.

Dubé did say, however, that Penn — along with much of the rest of the country — will not administer the Johnson & Johnson vaccine until the Food and Drug Administration and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention conclude their investigation into possible links between the vaccine and a blood clotting issue. 

On Tuesday morning, the FDA and CDC announced that they are recommending that the United States pause the distribution of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine "out of an abundance of caution" after six cases involving severe blood clotting emerged as a result of the vaccine.

Over seven million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, the only single-dose vaccine that has been released, have been distributed across the country. Dubé and Medical Director of Student Health Service Vanessa Stoloff both emphasized that the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is still effective in preventing cases of COVID-19.

Penn will release appointment slots for the upcoming week by Friday afternoon of each week. Dubé said the University will also continue to update the scheduling platform with new vaccine appointments if the city allots the University more doses. Dubé encouraged students to continue to check the scheduling website throughout the week and, most importantly, to remain patient.

"Not everyone will be able to get the vaccine next week, as much as we all would like that," Dubé said. "There is no perfect system, so we ask that everyone remain as patient as possible."

Stoloff added that, although the vaccine clinic will be open Monday through Friday beginning April 19, it might change its days of operation accordingly depending on how many vaccine doses the city provides in a given week.

The University will not prioritize any student over another in its rollout plan. Dubé encouraged students who have the ability to wait to receive the vaccine, to wait and let others who may not have the same opportunity get vaccinated sooner.

"If you are someone that has a lease that doesn't expire until May 31, for example, consider waiting to sign up and allow someone else — an international student, maybe — who might not have the same flexibility and availability to receive the vaccine at home to get it sooner," Dubé said.

Penn community members are instructed to arrive at the back entrance of Pottruck at 3730 Samson Street for their appointment, where they will be asked to check in, show Penn identification, and their green PennOpen Pass. From there, they will go upstairs to the Gimbel Gymnasium, which is accessible in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, to receive their vaccine. 

After being vaccinated, Penn community members will sit for a 15- or 30-minute observation period, depending on their medical history, to make sure they do not have any immediate vaccine side effects.

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