Philadelphia expanded vaccine eligibility on Monday to include four more categories of essential workers.
Sanitation workers, utility workers, postal delivery workers, and maintenance and janitorial staff are now eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported. While these groups fall within Phase 1C of vaccine rollout, the city has not yet extended eligibility to all groups within 1C, such as workers in higher education, transportation, construction, legal and financial services, and other professions.
"Previously prioritized groups in Philadelphia Phase 1A and 1B are still eligible and are encouraged to seek out vaccination opportunities," a city press release stated.
Other groups under 1C will become eligible later in April, according to the press release.
Philadelphia’s 1A and 1B phases include essential healthcare workers, people over the age of 65 or with high-risk medical conditions, and those working and living in congregate settings.
Philadelphia expects to open eligibility to all adults by May 1. The city has approved Penn as a vaccination site, and distribution will start April 19 and expand to Phase 2, which includes all residents 16 and older, starting May 1.
This expansion comes amid a surge of COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations in Philadelphia and surrounding counties. Hospitalizations have increased by 40% in Philadelphia since March 15. As of March 25, daily cases were up 41% compared to the previous two weeks.
An analysis by the Perelman School of Medicine found that 35% of analyzed COVID-19 genome samples in Philadelphia resembled more infectious variants of COVID-19, including the B.1.1.7 variant originating from the United Kingdom, variants originating from New York City and California, and other variants.