At least two-thirds of Philly’s city employees are fully vaccinated

A vaccine clinic was recently held at the Philadelphia Zoo.
Hughe Dillon

At least two-thirds of city employees are fully vaccinated against the coronavirus, Philadelphia’s Acting Health Commissioner Cheryl Bettigole said Wednesday.

That number is the first real data point on the vaccination rate for municipal workers. Just over 65% have been fully immunized, lower than the city’s overall rate for adults — 71.3%.

Bettigole said her department examined vaccine documents submitted voluntarily by city workers and analyzed Philadelphia’s vaccine database. The rate does not include anyone who may have gotten the shot outside the city.

“I’d like it to be as high as possible,” Bettigole said. “But given what we know about some hesitancy around the vaccine, it’s not terrible.”

“We will continue to encourage vaccination to do everything we can to nudge that rate up,” she added.

The health department plans to release department-level vaccine data Thursday, officials said.

Mayor Jim Kenney’s administration has eschewed a strict COVID-19 vaccine mandate; instead, employees can either get the shot or wear two masks when in enclosed, indoor areas. They are not required to provide their vaccination status.

More opportunities for boosters

Booster shots are now available for Philadelphians who received the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated federal guidance around additional doses last week, opening the door for millions of Americans to get boosters.

For those who initially received the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna two-shot series, boosters are available to people 65 and older, anyone living in a long-term care facility, adults with underlying medical conditions and people who work in high-risk settings.

The additional dose should be given no earlier than six months after the second shot.

Anyone over the age of 17 who was inoculated with J&J can sign up for a booster two months after their initial dose.

In addition, eligible residents can choose to get any vaccine brand as a booster dose, the CDC said.

Last week, 10,000 booster shots were administered in Philadelphia, and the city has now provided additional doses to 42,000 people since late last month, Bettigole said.

“We expect that number to continue to grow quickly now that more people are eligible,” she added.

Cases trending downward

Viral spread in Philadelphia seems to be decreasing, Bettigole told reporters Wednesday.

The city is currently recording an average of 206 new cases a day with a 2% positive test rate. Last week, the average was 250 infections a day.

Bettigole said the caseload has dropped to levels last seen in mid-August, when about 3,000 residents were getting tested on a daily basis.

“Now we’re consistently over 7,000 tests per day,” Bettigole said. “The percentage of tests that are coming back positive is much lower.”

She credited high vaccination rates and compliance with the city’s mandate that people mask up in most indoor public spaces as the reasons for the decline.

More from our Sister Sites