Philadelphia, Which Didn’t Want to Use Stadiums as Vaccine Sites, has Inoculated 87,000 People Who Don’t Even Live in the City

city didn't want to use this stadium as a vaccination site

From Rob Tornoe at the Inquirer:

Philadelphia has now administered over 500,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses, but many of those inoculations have gone to non-city residents, according to data released by the city.

As of Tuesday, 515,138 total vaccine doses have been administered in Philadelphia, which is handing its rollout separately from Pennsylvania. Of those, over 155,000 — roughly 30% — have gone to people that don’t live in the city.

The city has fully vaccinated over 251,818 people — 164,102 were Philadelphia residents, while 87,716 lived elsewhere in Pennsylvania. 

Meanwhile, Pennsylvania has fully vaccinated 37,981 Philadelphia residents as of Tuesday, and administered a first dose to another 28,428 city residents, according to numbers provided by the Department of Health.

Okay, so why do we care?

Because this is the exact reason why the city didn’t want to use Lincoln Financial Field (and the other sporting venues) as vaccine sites. They thought it would encourage people to come in from New Jersey and Delaware and the surrounding counties, and keep at-risk city residents from getting the vaccine.

This is what Health Commissioner Thomas Farley said way back on February 9th:

”Who’s going to drive into there? Not just people who have cars in Philadelphia but people who have cars in Delaware and the state of Pennsylvania,” Farley told a Council committee. “So it’s going to maybe drain the vaccine away from populations that we’re supposed to be vaccinating. We are allocated vaccine based upon our resident population, not based upon the metropolitan area.”

It made sense on paper. Philadelphia handled its own rollout, separate from the state, and had a responsibility to vaccinate its residents, a significant portion of which live in underserved communities.

So they went ahead with their plan, kept it ‘hyperlocal,’ and as of March 30th have now vaccinated 87,000 people who don’t even live in the city. Meantime, we’ve got tens of thousands of city residents going to Montco, Bucks, Chesco, or Delco to get their shots instead.

What we have here is a free-for-all. It’s been trending in this direction for some time now. I know suburban folks who drove to the shore to get the vaccine. A Crossing Broad reader in Fairmount emailed us saying he went to Bloomsburg for the vaccine. Others “know somebody” who “knows somebody.”

Keep in mind, we’re still technically in phase 1A in Pennsylvania, which is a group that includes healthcare personnel, folks 65 and older, and others with various high-risk conditions. Phase 1B, where Philly currently is, opens up eligibility to first responders, educators, and other people in similar essential roles. 1C expands on that, and then the rest of us who are lucky enough to be completely healthy, or work in non-essential fields (like sports blogging), we go last.

But these “rules” are already being broken on a daily basis. Plenty of people who don’t qualify for 1A, 1B, or 1C already got the vaccine. The city was, in theory, doing it the right way, but if there’s no way to enforce the guidelines you put into place, then doesn’t it defeat the purpose?

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