PHILADELPHIA— Penn Medicine will continue its collaboration with the West and Southwest Philadelphia communities to operate a series of COVID-19 vaccine clinics in partnership with community organizations, faith-based institutions, restaurants, barbershops, and even professional sports teams thanks to $1 million in funding from the City of Philadelphia, in partnership with PMHCC.
The funding will help extend the mission of the collaborative clinics to address racial inequity in vaccine distribution, and reach Black, brown, and underserved communities that have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19. So far, the clinics have vaccinated approximately 8,000 Philadelphians, the majority of whom are Black, at community sites in West, Southwest and South Philadelphia, including at a church, recreation center and schools. Penn Medicine has also collaborated with the Philadelphia Flyers and Phillies to vaccinate fans and employees at games and is continuing its efforts to vaccinate homebound Philadelphians.
“We are committed to reaching people where they are to make getting this lifesaving vaccine as easy as possible,” said PJ Brennan, MD, chief medical officer for the University of Pennsylvania Health System. “We are being creative about where we can not only administer the vaccine but also have important conversations about vaccination and its impact on the health of our community.”
Nationwide, the rollout for the COVID-19 vaccine has been inequitable, with white individuals being vaccinated at higher rates than Black individuals. Penn Medicine plans to use takeaways from its initial clinics, which were published in NEJM Catalyst, to support ongoing vaccination efforts. Insights include locating clinics in easily accessible locations within Black communities; embracing walk-in appointments and low-tech registration; designing clinics to be scalable in a variety of spaces; and operating clinics outside of traditional business hours. Another key strategy has been to prioritize input from key community leaders, who also help build trust and leverage neighborhood-level networks to raise awareness and support for vaccination.
“The Health Department has made distributing vaccine equitably one of our core goals,” said Acting Health Commissioner Dr. Cheryl Bettigole. “The community vaccine RFP was designed to encourage applicants to help ensure that those communities that have had the least access to the vaccine can get it. Penn Medicine’s initiative can help accomplish that.”
Penn Medicine is one of the world’s leading academic medical centers, dedicated to the related missions of medical education, biomedical research, and excellence in patient care. Penn Medicine consists of the Raymond and Ruth Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania (founded in 1765 as the nation’s first medical school) and the University of Pennsylvania Health System, which together form a $8.9 billion enterprise.
The Perelman School of Medicine has been ranked among the top medical schools in the United States for more than 20 years, according to U.S. News & World Report's survey of research-oriented medical schools. The School is consistently among the nation's top recipients of funding from the National Institutes of Health, with $496 million awarded in the 2020 fiscal year.
The University of Pennsylvania Health System’s patient care facilities include: the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania and Penn Presbyterian Medical Center—which are recognized as one of the nation’s top “Honor Roll” hospitals by U.S. News & World Report—Chester County Hospital; Lancaster General Health; Penn Medicine Princeton Health; and Pennsylvania Hospital, the nation’s first hospital, founded in 1751. Additional facilities and enterprises include Good Shepherd Penn Partners, Penn Medicine at Home, Lancaster Behavioral Health Hospital, and Princeton House Behavioral Health, among others.
Penn Medicine is powered by a talented and dedicated workforce of more than 44,000 people. The organization also has alliances with top community health systems across both Southeastern Pennsylvania and Southern New Jersey, creating more options for patients no matter where they live.
Penn Medicine is committed to improving lives and health through a variety of community-based programs and activities. In fiscal year 2020, Penn Medicine provided more than $563 million to benefit our community.