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March 10, 2022

Fewer Philadelphians are vaccinated against COVID-19 than previously reported, city says

The health department blamed the statistical error on an addition of data from Pennsylvania.

The Philadelphia Department of Public Health had to correct its coronavirus vaccine dashboard Wednesday after a review of citywide metrics found that several vaccination rates had been overreported.

The most significant changes had to be made to vaccination rates among children ages 5-11, who became eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine in November. 

The city health department originally reported Monday that 53.6% of kids in that age group had received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose. However, the updated number is now at 34.2%. More than 26% of children ages 5-11 are fully vaccinated.

Additionally, fewer adults in Philly are vaccinated against COVID-19 than were originally recorded. The city's updated coronavirus vaccine dashboard shows that the number of fully-vaccinated adults has declined from 82% to 76.4%. Adults who have received at least one vaccine dose dropped slightly from 95% to 94.3%.

While the number of fully-vaccinated residents ages 12 and up dipped from 76% to 75.4%, those who have received one COVID-19 vaccine dose actually increased from 91.5% to 93%.

The health department blamed the miscalculations on errors that were made when adding in data from Pennsylvania. Health Commissioner Dr. Cheryl Bettigole also said that the rate of Philadelphia children ages 5-11 who have received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose is higher than the national average.

"We were excited to see a high percentage of Philadelphia youth vaccinated, but we have learned that there was an error in how that percentage was calculated," Bettigole said. "No one is more disappointed than we are at this error, but we have corrected it and instituted new measures to ensure that any future problems are caught before they go live. I am happy to see that our pediatric vaccine rate is still higher than the nation’s but this shows us that we still have a great deal of work to do to vaccinate all of our children."

Despite the misreported vaccine numbers, Philadelphia remains at the "All Clear" level of its four-tier COVID-19 response system. The response levels are determined based upon coronavirus infections, hospitalization numbers and positivity rates.

The city is continuing to experience declining COVID-19 case numbers, hospitalizations and positive tests. Philly is averaging only 66 new coronavirus infections per day during the last two weeks. Only 128 patients are hospitalized due to COVID-19. The city's positivity rate has plummeted to 1.0% over the last two weeks.

Philadelphia ended its COVID-19 vaccine requirement for indoor dining last month. Venues, such as the Wells Fargo Center, the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Museum of the American Revolution, have since dropped their vaccination rules, too. Some restaurants have sought to keep the mandate in place.

Last week, the city eased its COVID-19 mask mandate. The health department said on Wednesday that mask requirements for students and staff in the School District of Philadelphia and Archdiocese of Philadelphia schools in the city were no longer in effect.

"The number of people who are testing positive for COVID in Philadelphia is rapidly approaching the lowest we’ve ever seen," Bettigole said. "Because our case counts are so low, and dropping, we feel that it’s safe enough for people to go unmasked indoors, including in schools. We haven’t seen a rise in cases in Philadelphia since we stopped enforcing the broader indoor mask mandate, nor have we seen a rise in cases in other jurisdictions that have dropped their school mask mandate."

Masks remain required in health care settings, congregate living settings and on public transit systems, including SEPTA.

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