TL;DR: Some Pennsylvania vaccine providers have for weeks been administering Moderna shots meant for second doses as first doses, leading to a dose shortage that could cause as many as 100,000 Pennsylvanians to have their vaccine appointments delayed. Read on for answers to some of your most pressing vaccination questions like: How long does immunity last? How do we track prevention? Does infection equal a dose of vaccine?

— Ellie Silverman (@esilverman11, health@inquirer.com)

What you need to know:

📚 Philadelphia public schools have pushed back their targeted date for reopening schools for prekindergarten through second grade to March 1. Meanwhile, President Joe Biden is promising a majority of elementary schools will be open five days a week by the end of his first 100 days in office.

💉 Philadelphia likely won’t expand to phase 1C of its vaccine rollout until the end of April.

☘️ North Wildwood may host its annual St. Patrick’s Day parade this year despite the ongoing pandemic, claiming the holiday is religious and therefore exempt from the state’s gathering restrictions, Mayor Patrick Rosenello said.

🦠 New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy still believes about 70% of his state’s adult population can be vaccinated by the middle of the year, though available doses have remained scarce.

😷 Philly Christians marked Ash Wednesday with to-go rituals, livestreamed services, and masked Masses.

📰 What’s going on in your county or neighborhood? We organized recent coverage of the coronavirus pandemic by local counties and Philly neighborhoods mentioned in the stories to make it easier for you to find the info you care about.

Local coronavirus cases

📈 The coronavirus has swept across the Philadelphia region and cases continue to mount. The Inquirer and Spotlight PA are compiling geographic data on tests conducted, cases confirmed, and deaths caused by the virus. Track the spread here.

More than 100,000 Pennsylvanians may have vaccine appointments rescheduled or canceled

Pennsylvania Department of Health officials said on Wednesday that some vaccine providers had for weeks been administering Moderna shots meant for second doses as first doses, leading to a shortage that could cause as many as 100,000 Pennsylvanians to have their first- and second-dose appointments delayed over the next three weeks. Montgomery County Board of Commissioners chair Valerie Arkoosh said she is “furious” over the shortage and lawmakers across the state are calling for accountability. Residents should proceed with their vaccine appointments unless they are contacted directly by the provider. Meanwhile, Philly is not affected by the dose errors occurring elsewhere in the commonwealth, a city spokesperson said. Infectious disease experts said a delay in administering doses is unlikely to make any difference in how well the vaccines work on an individual level.

Can vaccinated people still spread COVID-19?

It’s possible that some vaccinated people can spread the virus unknowingly, Brianne Barker, a Drew University biologist who studies the immune system’s response to viruses, told my colleague Tom Avril. So although a vaccine may prevent disease, it may “not prevent the virus from invading and making copies of itself — the definition of infection.” Avril writes. This is why experts say we need to keep up the mask-wearing. Read more for answers to some of your most pressing questions like: How long does immunity last? How do we track prevention? Does infection equal a dose of vaccine?

Helpful resources

You got this: When you don’t need to quarantine after being vaccinated

New Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance says that once you’re fully vaccinated, you don’t need to quarantine if you’re exposed to someone with COVID-19, as long as you meet certain qualifications. My colleague Grace Dickinson breaks down those requirements, and who they apply to, in this story.

🏠 I’m sitting at home during the pandemic. You’re going out. How to make sense of these friendships now.

🚴 Need a bike in the Philly region? Or need to get your old one fixed up? Here’s where to start.

🍅 Your neighborhood restaurant is now your grocery store, due to the pandemic. Here is a list of restaurants and cafes offering groceries.

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

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