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Delivering COVID vaccine close to home

Local residents were happy that state Rep. Jared Solomon arranged for COVID-19 vaccinations in the Northeast.

Many people in the Northeast have complained about facing obstacles to receiving the coronavirus vaccine.

Philadelphia is prioritizing people in Phase 1A or 1B, which includes health care workers and home health aides; residents and staff in long-term care facilities; certain high-risk essential workers, such as public safety, transit and teachers; people with certain medical conditions, such as cancer, diabetes and organ transplantees; and anyone over the age of 75.

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The city Department of Public Health has opened three clinics in so-called “traditionally underserved” areas. They are at Community Academy of Philadelphia Charter School, 1101 E. Erie Ave. in Juniata; Martin Luther King Older Adult Center, 2101 W. Cecil B. Moore Ave.; and University of the Sciences, 600 S. 43rd St.

FEMA has opened a site at the Pennsylvania Convention Center.

Northeast residents want better access.

“Tons of people have called us. They’re frustrated and panicked,” said state Rep. Jared Solomon (D-202nd dist.).

A Sunray Drugs licensed pharmacist vaccinates a woman with the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine.

Solomon’s office kept a database of those in need of a COVID-19 vaccine. The lawmaker teamed with Sunray Specialty Pharmacy to deliver the Pfizer vaccine to 250 people on Monday at Kinder Academy, a day care expected to open soon at 6901 Rising Sun Ave. (at Longshore Avenue).

Appointments were given at 10-minute intervals. The weather was relatively warm as people, generally seniors and those with high-risk medical conditions, waited in the daycare parking lot.

Individuals were brought inside to a waiting room, then registered at tables staffed by Sunray. Solomon’s staff and Lawncrest Community Association president Bill Dolbow assisted.

After receiving the dose, each person waited for 10 minutes before going home. They will return to Kinder Academy on March 29 for their second Pfizer dose.

A Sunray Drugs licensed pharmacist vaccinates a man with the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine.

Solomon, whose office sent out a robocall in advance of Monday’s event, said the outreach was needed because Philadelphia has vaccinated a miserably low 13 percent of its senior citizen population.

“We need to increase that,” he said.

The participation of local pharmacies, the legislator believes, is needed. He cited similar successful efforts in West Virginia and North Dakota.

“The power of that network needs to be released,” he said.

Solomon said he has heard that the FEMA vaccination site has been working well. He is hoping to schedule more local vaccination opportunities.

“We’re going to try the best we can to make them regular,” he said.

Sunray Drugs officials and a University of the Sciences student prepare the vaccines.

Meanwhile, the city continues to encourage people looking to receive the COVID-19 vaccine to register at https://covid-vaccine-interest.phila.gov/.

The form is not for registering for an appointment, but will tell the city Department of Public Health how to contact you when you are eligible and the vaccine is available.

Individuals who do not have access to the internet can dial 3-1-1 for help completing the interest form.

For employers, the website is https://form.jotform.com/philagov/workforce-covid-vaccine-planning. Employers that complete this form will be contacted to help set up opportunities to vaccinate their prioritized staff when they are eligible and the vaccine is available.

Individuals can find out more information by calling 800-722-7112, visiting phila.gov/covid-19 or texting COVIDPHL to 888-777 to get updates sent to their phones. ••

Sunray Drugs employees check in vaccine recipients.
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