UPDATE: The open access days described below have ended. The City has published a new blog on the latest on the Center City Vaccination Center operations.
Philadelphia and other cities and states around the country are struggling with inequitable uptake of the COVID-19 vaccine. Largely, white folks and those who are better off are able to secure appointments and be vaccinated. In order to ensure that communities of color and those suffering from poverty get access to vaccine in an equitable fashion, extra efforts must be made.
The Health Department tracks who is vaccinated in Philadelphia. Vaccine uptake is not equally distributed in Philadelphia. Areas that are traditionally underserved, including Northeast, Lower Northeast, North, Southwest, and West Philadelphia have fewer people vaccinated per capita than other neighborhoods.
In order to make up the difference in vaccination rates, the Health Department has been inviting more people from zip codes with the lowest vaccination rates to make appointments, but that hasn’t been enough. The disparity continues. In order to combat this inequity, the City of Philadelphia is allowing people from 22 under-vaccinated zip codes open access for six days at the FEMA-supported Center City Vaccination Center. In addition to Philadelphians who will receive invitations from the City’s Vaccine Interest database, those residents of Philadelphia who meet Phase 1a and 1b eligibility criteria and can prove that they live in the targeted zip codes will have open access to the FEMA-supported Center City Vaccination Center.
When is the open access at the Center City Vaccination Center happening?
Between Wednesday, March 17 and Monday, March 22, 2021. Clinic hours are from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. It is recommended that folks from the targeted zip codes show up before 5:00 p.m. to ensure they can get in.
Who can walk up to the Center City Vaccination Center?
The Center City Vaccination Center is only open to Philadelphia residents who are eligible in Philadelphia Phase 1a and 1b. People who live in the following zip codes and are eligible can come at any time between March 17 and March 22, 2021 during clinic hours. Everyone else needs an appointment.
West and Southwest Philadelphia
Northeast and Lower Northeast Philadelphia
How can I prove that I’m eligible?
You will be asked to produce an ID or a piece of mail with your address on it to prove that you are a resident of one of the target zip codes. You will also be asked about your age, medical conditions, or employment to determine if you are eligible to be vaccinated.
Is the City only allowing walk-ups at the Center City Vaccination Center?
No, the Health Department is still notifying people who are eligible, from all across the city, when they can set appointments to be vaccinated. We are reaching out notify everyone in Philadelphia Phase 1a and 1b now that they may be able to set an appointment. People who are in Phase 1c and Phase 2 should continue to be patient; you will be contacted as soon as you are eligible and vaccine is available to you.
What should you expect at the Center City Vaccination Center now that open access has started?
People who have appointments will continue to get access to the clinic as before, including being asked about if they live in Philadelphia. People who are showing up because they are eligible and live in one of the target zip codes will also be asked if they live in one of the target zip codes and will be asked if they meet the Philadelphia Phase 1a and 1b eligibility criteria.
Because so many people may come, there might be a bit of a wait, so we encourage everyone to come dressed for the weather.
It is also possible that more people show up for open access than we have vaccines available and those folks will be asked to come back the next day.
How do I get there?
- Take Transit: The Center City Vaccination Center is conveniently located at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Center City and is easily accessible from plenty of bus and train routes and is right up the street from SEPTA’s Jefferson Station. Individuals are highly encouraged to use public transit resources to get to and from the site. Seniors who are at least 65 years of age can already ride SEPTA for free. Eligibility criteria and application information can be found here. The city and SEPTA are working with community partners to distribute free roundtrip transit passes for those in targeted zip codes for the walk-up clinic.
- SEPTA CCT: SEPTA CCT has expanded service for vaccinations. This service is free-of-charge for those who are 65 years of age or older, have a disability or access and functional need, or those who identify ride accommodation needs. SEPTA CCT provides door-to-door service from individuals’ homes, to the vaccination site, and back home after their vaccination. Rides can be scheduled by dialing 3-1-1 and selecting Option 5 between 8 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday through Friday. Rides must be scheduled at least 48 hours in advance.
- Limited shuttle services: Limited shuttle service is available, especially for communities that are less transit-accessible. Shuttle services must be coordinated through a central community organization and requested at least three days in advance. The city is reaching out to community organizations with information about how to organize shuttle services.
- Parking: There are several parking garages near the Pennsylvania Convention Center offering discounted rates if you show your vaccine card.
Where do I go when I get to the clinic?
The only entrance to the Center City Vaccination Center is on the northeast corner of 12th and Arch Streets. Screening starts outside of the Convention Center, so you should plan to access from 11th and Arch Streets.