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January 21, 2021

Philly's official COVID-19 vaccine website goes online; residents can sign-up to be notified about getting their shots

Inoculation appointments are made based on supply and eligibility guidelines. Completing online form will ensure you find out when it is your turn, city says

Philadelphia residents seeking to get the COVID-19 vaccine can now use the city's official vaccine sign-up website to express interest in booking appointments to receive their shots.

The website – published in English and Spanish – allows city residents to submit contact information and some personal background to help the city health department determine when users will be eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine. This will be based on supply and updated priority guidelines established by Philadelphia's vaccine task force.

Those who complete the interest form posted on the site will be contacted later by the Philadelphia Department of Public Health or one of the city’s vaccine partners when it is their turn to schedule appointments. 

Health department officials reassured that site is secure, and the personal data collected from the form is protected using the same level of security as other health information maintained by the department.

"Having a vaccine against COVID is a major step forward, but we understand that many Philadelphians are frustrated by not knowing how to get vaccinated," Philadelphia Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley said. "While we cannot make more doses of vaccine appear, with this sign-up, we can at least assure interested Philadelphians that they will be contacted when their opportunity to get vaccinated comes up."

The city's supply of COVID-19 vaccines remains extremely limited at this time. The city's website does not enable residents to set an appointment, but rather request to be contacted when they are able to schedule one.

It could take weeks or months before people who sign up for the COVID-19 vaccine receive calls to make appointments.

The health department is also working with other organizations that have set up "pre-registration sites," including Philly Fighting COVID, the Black Doctor's COVID-19 Consortium and Acme. The city aims to ensure that information those groups already have collected will be added to the city's database.

There had been some confusion among residents over whether existing sites from vaccine partners, such as Philly Fighting COVID, would transfer updated information to the city's official site.

"As our database is being built, it is being done with a mind toward being able to easily combine with the others," a health department spokesperson said. "While it’s possible that some folks who have signed up with these forms may be contacted in the future, after they’ve already received their vaccine, we don’t envision that to necessarily be a bad thing."

The health department said it is developing tools to that will enable residents to register using any partner site – or all of the sites — so they can be contacted when they are eligible to be inoculated.

Philadelphia is in Phase 1B of its vaccination plan, which includes to certain groups of essential workers, seniors over the age of 75 and people with certain high-risk medical conditions, in addition to health care workers who were already covered under Phase 1A.

"It's important to stress that at some point in the future, everyone who indicates that they want to get a vaccine will be contacted and given the opportunity to make an appointment," the health department said in a statement. "There is no reason to call your personal health care provider to ask about setting an appointment."

The city has been told it will continue to receive a combined total of about 20,000 doses of the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines per week — plus the appropriate second doses — through the end of February, which Farley described as a "very limited supply."

It is hoped and expected that COVID-19 vaccine production will ramp up significantly in the weeks and months ahead.

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