A message to the Penn community regarding vaccine distribution on campus

It has been one year since the pandemic began changing the ways we live, work, and learn. Though it has been a time of unprecedented challenges, the Penn community has shown remarkable resilience. Critical tools such as PennOpen Pass and Penn Cares have engaged all of us in our collective responsibility to protect ourselves and each other, and to reduce the spread of COVID-19. The next critical step in our fight against the virus is vaccine distribution.

We recognize the many questions about what role Penn will play in distributing vaccines to the Penn community. Penn’s Vaccine Response Team (VRT) is currently working on implementing a vaccine distribution plan to provide vaccine access to faculty, staff, postdocs, and students.

The University has received authorization from the Philadelphia Department of Public Health (PDPH) to administer the vaccine on campus to eligible faculty, staff, postdocs, and students.

The site will open in April at Gimbel Gymnasium in the Pottruck Health and Fitness Center. We value your feedback about our vaccine efforts and ask that you take a few minutes to complete the Penn Wellness COVID-19 Vaccine Interest survey. Your answers will let us know that you are interested in receiving the vaccine on campus should you be eligible when it becomes available.

Vaccines are not mandatory. However, when they are available, the University will facilitate access to vaccines according to the vaccine phases established by the PDPH. The vaccines will be administered to faculty, staff, and postdocs who are Philadelphia residents, as this is the current PDPH guideline. Students are exempt from meeting the permanent residency requirement. We will communicate details of our plan and process once those plans have been finalized.

This message is to explain the eligibility process for vaccination and provide guidance for you on what to do if you have questions or are looking for additional options and resources to get vaccinated.

Who is Eligible?

In the City of Philadelphia, vaccines are being prioritized based on two principles: occupational exposure and transmission risk, and underlying mortality and morbidity risk. The vaccine access Penn provides will first be dictated by the City of Philadelphia guidelines. However, Penn will help coordinate access to the vaccine based on occupational risk and age only. To maintain medical health confidentiality, Penn is not considering morbidity risk in providing access to the vaccine. If you have a comorbidity that you believe elevates your eligibility for the vaccine, please consult with your primary care physician.

In Philadelphia, vaccines are being distributed in Phases 1a, 1b, 1c, and 2. Phase 1a includes individuals who are high risk for exposure and transmission to vulnerable populations such as patient-facing healthcare workers. Phase 1b includes individuals who are 65 years of age and older, are frontline workers at high risk for exposure and who perform essential duties, work and reside in congregate settings, and have high-risk medical conditions. Phase 1c comprises those working in higher education. Phase 2 represents the general population, including students.

Although Penn’s vaccine plan does not include some individuals such as retirees and emeritus faculty, we are committed to providing all members of our community with information and guidance to explore all options for obtaining a vaccine.

Penn’s upcoming vaccine distribution plan provides just one avenue to get vaccinated. We encourage everyone in the Penn community, wherever you may live, to explore all options available to receive your vaccination, as the vaccine that you can safely receive the earliest will be the ideal option. Here are additional links with vaccine information based on your state of residence: New Jersey, Delaware, Pennsylvania.

Other resources to consider include: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Vaccine Finder, National Public Radio Vaccine Tool, and the NBC News Plan Your Vaccine platform.

Questions about Vaccines

Penn has created a dedicated Vaccination website where we will post updated information about the vaccine rollout, so please check it regularly.

If you have questions, contact the COVID Resource Call Center at 215-573-7096 or email covidresource@upenn.edu. You can also view these vaccine-related FAQs.

The vaccine supply and distribution process remain fluid, so we deeply appreciate your patience as our vaccine plan evolves.

We thank you for your dedication and commitment to carrying out your roles and responsibilities and look forward to communicating more details about vaccines as they become available.