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‘A big step back to normal’ | Coronavirus Newsletter

Plus, how we’ll know when the pandemic is over

At Skippack Pharmacy in Skippack, Pa., pharmacist Mayank Amin with vaccine doses.
At Skippack Pharmacy in Skippack, Pa., pharmacist Mayank Amin with vaccine doses.Read moreELIZABETH ROBERTSON / Staff Photographer

The gist: Everyone’s asking when the pandemic will be over. Thanks to vaccines, the share of the population protected from severe COVID-19 continues to grow. That trend has infectious disease experts predicting that sometime in the not-so-distant future, the disease will become “endemic” — still circulating, yet not out of control.

And this week’s government approval of Pfizer’s two-dose vaccine for children ages 5 to 11 is a critical move toward a return to normalcy. “This is a big step back to normal, and I’m very excited,” Public Health Commissioner Cheryl Bettigole said Wednesday.

📥 We want to know what the end means for you: What are you most looking forward to doing again? Tell our health reporters, and we’ll feature some answers in next week’s newsletter.

— Kelly O’Shea (@kelloshea,

Philadelphia has ordered 20,000 doses of the newly approved pediatric coronavirus vaccine and is instructing providers to begin administering shots as soon as they are able, Bettigole said. Doses will be available at city-run community clinics, pharmacies, and health centers. But smaller patients — with smaller doses and smaller needles — require a different approach that has pediatricians scrambling.

  1. Philly-area parents are relieved as children get their first doses.

  2. What are the side effects in kids? And more of your questions answered.

  3. Why children who’ve already had COVID-19 still need to get vaccinated.

What you need to know:

🏙️ Philly is less vaccinated than the suburbs, but those counties’ COVID-19 cases are higher. City health officials believe masking may be making the difference.

⛹️ All Philadelphia School District athletes must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Those who do not provide proof of inoculation or qualify for an exemption will not be able to participate in sports, district officials said.

🏫 Thousands of Penn students have failed to comply with COVID-19 testing or proof of immunization. The university said it will prevent those students from registering for spring classes and from entering campus buildings.

😷 Council Rock has granted mask exemptions to 20% of its students. Cheltenham hasn’t had any. Here’s how the mask debate continues to play out in Pennsylvania.

🗓️ Pennsylvania is offering state employees five days of paid leave for getting fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by the end of the year.

Local coronavirus numbers

📈 No Pennsylvania counties have reported increases in daily new case counts in the last two weeks. Track the latest data here.

Helpful resources

  1. A Philly pediatrician addresses parents’ fears on the COVID-19 vaccine for kids.

  2. What you need to know about COVID-19 booster shots.

  3. What you need to know about getting vaccinated if you’re undocumented.

A dose of diversion: Guide to the Free Library of Philadelphia

Chances are, you’re underutilizing the Free Library of Philadelphia. The library, which has more than 50 branches across the city, has a lot more than books. Here are all of the things your library card gets you in Philadelphia — from knitting needles to guitars to yoga equipment — and how to get one (hint: it’s easy and free).

🦃 The Thanksgiving Day Parade is back in Philly this year.

🍎 Apple Weekend at Peddler’s Village and other fun things to do with kids in Philly this week.

🥣 Diwali, celebrated this year on Nov. 4, shines bright with this dessert recipe passed down by family tradition.

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