Message on Vaccinations


Dear Colleagues,

Like many of you who have not yet been vaccinated, I remain eager and somewhat impatient for my opportunity.  I continue to hear from members of the research community your frustration, disappointment, and angst.  We have all heard of some peer institutions where apparently everyone has been vaccinated, and many are asking why this is not the case at Penn. 

Penn Medicine is bound by the guidelines from the City of Philadelphia, one of five major cities in the US with vaccine allocations and individual directives that are distinct even from those of the State of Pennsylvania, which govern regions outside the City.  Penn Medicine is not yet able to vaccinate our own patients who live outside the City, for example, at our downtown sites. 

We have, and will continue to, vaccinate those in the University community who qualify according to city guidelines, and we will expand vaccination as soon as the rules and supplies allow.  I have followed with pride the efforts of our colleagues to vaccinate, educate, and advocate for our local community, including many of our underserved neighbors.  I am encouraged by the advances being made at the national level, and my expectation is that the process will continue to accelerate.

In the meantime, we continue to encourage signing up for a vaccine through local lists to maximize potential opportunities.  We learned that Philadelphia’s FEMA vaccine site will allow walk-up appointments to eligible residents in 22 zip codes.  And, if you are a Penn Medicine patient, the vaccine interest form is found here.

Lastly, for those of you who are concerned about working in our labs while not vaccinated, I want to reassure you that our mitigation efforts are working, and we know how to operate safely during this time.  As I noted last week, we have documented zero reported workplace transmissions in PSOM, and our 7-day test positivity rates remain extremely low.  It remains imperative that everyone – vaccinated or not – continues to abide by the following: use PennOpen Pass; enroll in Penn Cares and COVID SAFE surveillance testing (as applicable); and practice mitigation measures of universal wearing of masks, maintaining physical distance, avoiding large crowds, and washing hands frequently.

This has been a year of extreme uncertainty, and we have tackled each challenge with resolve and empathy.  We will do the same with our vaccination plans, and when provided with the supply and as city guidelines allow, Penn Medicine stands ready.

Thank you,


Jon Epstein, MD | EVD/CSO

Follow us on Twitter: @PennMedEVDCSO