Tuesday, January 19, 2020—With the FDA's emergency authorization of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines, Penn Medicine is working with our medical experts and the government to get the vaccine to health care staff as part of Phase 1a, as well as patients who meet the criteria for Phase 1b.
We are giving out the vaccines in the most ethical, safest and quickest way possible. Our teams have made sure that everything needed for the vaccines is set up, including supplies and personal protective equipment (PPE), shipment, storage systems, and technology.
Our ultimate goal is to ensure that everyone who wants a vaccine gets it.
Information about the vaccines is constantly changing, and we will update this page frequently as we learn more. Please check back often.
Have questions about the COVID-19 vaccines?
Check out our frequently asked questions (FAQs) for more information on vaccine safety, who should get the vaccine, and when it will be available.
Giving Out the COVID-19 Vaccine to Patients
Working with the Philadelphia Department of Public Health, Penn Medicine is starting COVID-19 vaccine Phase 1b, offering the vaccine to patients who are Philadelphia residents and have one of the following highest risk conditions: 75 years of age or older, cancer, chronic kidney disease, organ transplant, or diabetes mellitus.
We are awaiting guidance for the counties that surround Philadelphia and encourage you to monitor your county’s health department website for updates. If you are a patient at Penn Medicine Chester County Hospital, Penn Medicine Lancaster General Health or Penn Medicine Princeton Health, please check their website for more information.
Penn Medicine will call and/or send messages through myPennMedicine to patients who meet the Phase 1b criteria to schedule a vaccine appointment. Due to a very limited supply, we will start by contacting patients who are at the highest risk. As our supply of vaccine increases, we will continue to contact patients who meet the eligibility requirements to schedule their vaccine. At this time, we are not able to schedule COVID-19 vaccine appointments for patients who call us.
In addition to hospital staff and people with high-risk medical conditions, people who live in nursing homes and staff who work in nursing homes are getting the vaccine early. After that, the vaccine will be given out to other essential workers, and then the general population.
Types of COVID-19 Vaccines
Two vaccines, developed by pharmaceutical companies Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, are becoming available to frontline health care workers. Both vaccines are showing about 95% efficacy in their preliminary reviews.
The US Food & Drug Administration (FDA) authorized the Pfizer and BioNTech vaccine on December 11 and the Moderna vaccine on December 18.
mRNA Vaccine Technology Developed at Penn Medicine
The Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines use the mRNA technology developed at Penn by infectious disease expert Drew Weissman, MD, PhD, along with longtime research collaborator Katalin Karikó, PhD, an adjunct associate professor. Dr. Weissman has been studying mRNA vaccines for decades. This technology could change the way future vaccines are made to prevent countless other diseases.
Read our interview with Dr. Weissman to learn about the science behind the COVID-19 vaccines