PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Philadelphia will significantly increase vaccine distribution, including to teachers, and will also allow restaurants to expand indoor dining if they improve ventilation. The announcements from city officials come with vaccine supplies still limited and targeted to the most vulnerable.
Philadelphia will open six mass COVID-19 vaccine clinics this month, and the city will partner with the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia to vaccinate teachers and school staff.READ MORE: Philadelphia Students To Remain Virtual As Mediation Process Between School District, Teachers' Union On Phased Reopening Nearing End
And the health commissioner said he feels teachers can safely return to class even before they’re fully vaccinated.
“I think people can prevent spread in schools if they follow safety precautions. I don’t think vaccination is necessary for schools to be open,” Dr. Thomas Farley said.
While it might not be necessary for safety, the health department, in partnership with CHOP, will be offering the COVID vaccine to all school employees starting Feb 22.
Twenty thousand doses will be provided to teachers and staff at CHOP and in six schools over eight weeks.
“Getting children back into classrooms throughout the city is vitally important to their future,” said Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney.READ MORE: Delaware County Company Develops 'The Hurricane,' Device Using UVC Technology To Kill Coronavirus
Vaccine supplies to Philadelphia will be increasing with the city now planning to open a series of mass vaccine sites and additional pharmacies will be providing vaccines.
Doses are still earmarked only for people in phase 1B and require registration and appointments either through the city or providers.
“It’s still going to be many months before everyone has an opportunity to get vaccinated,” Dr. Farley said. “If you’re young and healthy expect to wait, this is going to be a long process.”
For restaurants, the city will allow them to expand indoor dining from 25 to 50% of their capacity if they meet new ventilation requirements that circulate air through the space at least 15 times per hour, either with an HVAC system or window fans.
“We do think this is a way to try to have restaurants get back on their feet economically and provide service to customers while also doing it safely we’re trying to come up with that balance,” Dr. Farley said.MORE NEWS: Fourth Bucks County Resident, Raechel Genco, Arrested For Alleged Role In Capitol Riot
Dr. Farley is not a fan of using Lincoln Finical Field as a vaccination site because it would attract too many people from other states. He says targeted locations in neighborhoods would be more effective.