The gist: COVID-19 booster shots have now been approved for many adults, whether you got the Pfizer, Moderna, or Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Yet Philadelphia Acting Health Commissioner Cheryl Bettigole said Wednesday that booster uptake in the city is low, “and it’s been low everywhere.”

Officials initially expected they’d have to deal with a large number of people seeking doses, but have now shifted to text messages and robocalls encouraging eligible residents to get a shot. While vaccine efficacy from initial doses remains high, Bettigole said, some groups should get booster shots to ensure that they are fully protected.

— Kelly O’Shea (@kelloshea, health@inquirer.com)

What you need to know about booster shots

The FDA authorized Moderna booster shots for seniors, adults with compromised immune systems, and people whose work puts them at high risk of contracting coronavirus. The agency in September approved a Pfizer booster for the same groups. All adults age 18 and older who received a Johnson & Johnson vaccine are approved to get a booster after two months. Read more for additional details on eligibility and where to get a booster.

What you need to know:

🧑‍🏫 Of Philadelphia School District employees, 81% have been fully vaccinated. The 2,250 staff who remain unvaccinated are submitting to twice-weekly COVID-19 tests.

💉 Kids ages 5 to 11 will soon be able to get a COVID-19 shot at their pediatrician’s office, local pharmacy, and potentially even their school, according to plans released Wednesday by the White House.

💊 Merck’s COVID-19 pill appears to reduce the risk of hospitalization, but a study found it also induced low levels of DNA mutations in hamster cells — in theory, suggesting it could pose a slight risk of cancer. That’s why some experts are suggesting its use should be limited to those at high risk of severe disease.

🦠 Here’s how the six-foot social distancing rule may backfire in crowded spaces, according to researchers.

👩‍⚕️ More than a dozen of Philadelphia School District schools have no full-time nurse, leaving families “scared to death.”

🗓️ Philadelphia’s vaccine mandate deadline for most health-care workers passed last week. Now enforcement begins.

Local coronavirus numbers

📈 Coronavirus hospitalizations in Pennsylvania have remained steady over the past week. Track the latest data here.

Helpful resources

A dose of diversion: Philly’s best bars

For a time, drinking at the bar was off-limits, and we had to take our margaritas to-go. Those days are over, thankfully. To get back up to speed after a break from bar-hopping, my colleague Jenn Ladd asked Philly service industry veterans to tell us their favorite places to drink. (Get more food tips by signing up for our Let’s Eat newsletter.)

🛋️ Where to donate furniture, clothes, and other stuff in Philly.

🚗 Need a break from the city? Check out our guide of what to do in Kennett Square.

💀Día de los Muertos at the Penn Museum and other kid-friendly events to check out this week.

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