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Vaccinations rising as Pfizer gets full approval | Coronavirus Newsletter

Plus, Philly-area health leaders are planning for booster shots

Ying Zhang receives her first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at the Crane Community Center last month.
Ying Zhang receives her first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at the Crane Community Center last month.Read moreHEATHER KHALIFA / Staff Photographer

The gist: We’ve entered a new phase of vaccination.

Restaurants, cruise lines, colleges, and a growing number of employers — hospitals, municipal governments, Amtrak, Citigroup — are telling workers and customers to prove they’ve been vaccinated or go elsewhere.

And all that was before Monday’s full authorization of the Pfizer vaccine by the FDA.

President Joe Biden said employers and policymakers mulling vaccine requirements should see the FDA approval as a green light to move forward. And locally, some did. Following the news, Philadelphia mandated vaccination for all school district staff. In New Jersey, Gov. Phil Murphy announced Monday that teachers, as well as all state workers, must be fully vaccinated by Oct. 18.

The mandates provide the potential to increase vaccination rates as the highly transmissible delta variant threatens to reverse the progress that was made in fending off the pandemic earlier this summer.

— Kelly O’Shea (@kelloshea,

What you need to know:

💉 In Philly and its suburbs, health leaders are planning for a booster shot rollout next month. They say the process will be “better this time around,” citing plentiful vaccine supply and existing infrastructure.

⚕️The number of institutions implementing vaccine mandates has grown, but the allowable medical exemptions vary widely. Here’s what you need to know about exemptions.

🎓 Vaccinated vs. unvaccinated roommates: Some local universities aren’t accommodating demands for vaccinated roommates, worrying parents and students.

🏢 Fearful of the delta variant, firms in the Philadelphia region are pushing back return-to-office dates. In Center City alone, there are 100,000 employees still not back in offices, the Center City District estimates.

🚗 Rental car prices have skyrocketed — from $89 a day over Independence Day 2020 to $166 during that same time period in 2021 — due to pandemic-related supply shortages.

Local coronavirus numbers

📈The Inquirer and Spotlight PA are compiling geographic data on confirmed coronavirus cases, deaths caused by the virus, and vaccinations to curb the spread. Track the latest data here.

Pennsylvania and New Jersey have already administered more first doses of coronavirus vaccine in August than July, offering encouraging news as hospitalizations — primarily of the unvaccinated — continue to rise.

  1. An Inquirer data analysis found that first shots administered in both states surpassed July’s tallies by Tuesday, with a week left in August.

  2. As vaccine mandates increase, more people are entering Philly-area vaccine clinics, including many who were reluctant to get a shot.

The Food and Drug Administration granted full approval Monday for the COVID-19 vaccine made by Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE. What’s new is that upon reviewing clinical trial safety data for an additional four months after granting an emergency use authorization, the agency has found no cause for concern. The full approval also means physicians are now allowed to prescribe it for indications other than what is spelled out on the drug label — a practice known as “off-label” usage. Public-health experts hope more people will now sign up for the shots — whether on their own initiative or in response to new vaccine mandates by employers and universities. Read more for a breakdown of what the FDA action means, and why it might spur more use of the vaccine.

Helpful resources

  1. Here’s how to prepare for your vaccine appointment.

  2. The delta variant might mean it’s time to upgrade your mask.

  3. What to do if you got your vaccine card laminated.

You got this: Show your card

Restaurants, music venues, gyms, universities, and many more institutions in the Philadelphia area are now requiring patrons to show their vaccination card (either the physical copy or a photo) to access their services. Click here for the full list of local businesses requiring proof of vaccination.

🥩 Hungry? Check out restaurant critic Craig Laban’s top picks for the best steak splurge in Philly.

✍️ This new arts initiative is welcoming West Philly to write a poem together.

🤗 The best kid events in Philly this weekend.

Have a tip or question to share? Let us know at and your input might be featured in a future edition of this newsletter.

What we’re paying attention to

  1. A lucky few seem “resistant” to COVID-19, Stat reports. Scientists want to know why.

  2. Scientists say the “window is rapidly closing” to gather crucial evidence on the coronavirus’s origins, The New York Times reports.

  3. The pandemic has unveiled a growing suicide crisis for communities of color, Kaiser Health News reports.

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