PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Pennsylvania health officials are now expanding access to COVID-19 vaccines, opening them to people with certain medical conditions and those over 65. But that’s not the case in Philadelphia, which announced its own expansion Tuesday.
Effective today, we’re expanding our #COVID19 #vaccination efforts in Phase 1A to include anyone over 65 and people ages 16-64 with serious medical conditions that make them more at risk for severe illness. View more information about updated vaccine plan: https://t.co/7gn2hiod6q pic.twitter.com/cYHVpPruJy
— PA Department of Health (@PAHealthDept) January 19, 2021
These expansions are happening while there are still limited vaccine supplies. Officials are asking for patience, saying people might have to wait for months.
The biggest difference between the state and Philadelphia is the age for eligibility, but anyone over 16 with a chronic medical condition can now get vaccinated.
Pennsylvania is expanding vaccination eligibility in Phase 1A. It now covers anyone over 65 and people with serious medical conditions identified as cancer, heart disease, obesity and smokers. This aligns with the federal recommendations.
“If it is your turn to get vaccinated now, you will go to our interactive map to find a vaccine provider near you, then you’ll schedule an appointment directly with that provider,” said Pennsylvania Deputy Health Secretary Cindy Findley.
The vaccine expansion comes as COVID cases, while still high, are declining.
Philadelphia is also expanding vaccinations, operating separately from the state.
“So, it’s gonna be a little bit complicated that our system is gonna be somewhat different from people in the suburbs,” said Philadelphia Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley. “We have to concern ourselves with racial equity here and many people, African American folks, have diabetes or heart conditions that put them at greater risk. We want to make sure that they have early access to vaccine.”
Philadelphia is expanding to Phase 1B — that’s people over the age of 75 and those with medical conditions. People will be able to register on the health department’s website later this week.
“There’s no scheduling involved here. It’s simply an expression of interest,” Dr. Farley said. “And leaving your contact information and then when people are eligible, we will contact them about how to schedule an appointment.”
Vaccine supplies are still limited and there are growing concerns that some providers are giving vaccines to people out of turn.
“You know if you’re jumping the line or not, and that’s not good karma for you and if you’re taking a vaccine away from a 75-year-old person or a person who has existing illnesses, then you ought to examine your conscious and not do it,” Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney said.
Philadelphia officials have also identified a second person infected with the new COVID variant. It’s unknown if the man, in his 20s, had any connection to the United Kingdom.
MORE ON CBSPHILLY.COM