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Unlike other parts of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia residents with HIV / AIDS are not eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine.

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As of February 22, Philadelphia residents living with HIV / AIDS are not eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine (as of February 22).Philadelphia Gay News graphic).

Tim Quick

Philadelphia – A person living with AIDS in Philadelphia was recently turned down for the COVID-19 vaccine, and he is urging the city to include people with HIV / AIDS in the current stage of vaccine distribution.

“I’ve survived AIDS for 30 years and now I definitely don’t want to die from COVID,” said Richard Doe, who demanded anonymity because of the delicate nature of his health. “I don’t understand why cities seem so reluctant to do the right thing.”

In Pennsylvania, people living with HIV are currently eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine. But this is not the case in Philadelphia. Individual vaccine guidelines From the rest of the state.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention points out that people who are infected with HIV and have low CD4 cell counts are at increased risk of severe cases of COVID-19, as are people who are infected with untreated HIV. However, the CDC guidelines followed by the City of Philadelphia do not mandate immunization prioritization for HIV / AIDS patients.

At this stage of vaccine distribution, city guidelines prioritize: People over 75 years old. Frontline essential worker. People who live in a rally environment and people who are in a particular state of health.

These health conditions include cancer, chronic kidney disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, pregnancy, Down’s disease, heart disease, immunodeficiency due to solid organ transplantation, severe obesity, sickle cell disease, and smoking.

On February 13, Doe used the Walgreens app to apply for a vaccine at Walgreens Pharmacy at 1800 South Street. He received a vaccination appointment on February 16th, but a Walgreens pharmacist called Doe late February 13th and the city instructed Walgreens to vaccinate only people over the age of 75. As a result, the reservation was cancelled, Doe said.

Doe (59) was unable to make an appointment with other vaccine providers in the city, he said.

Philadelphia Health Commissioner Thomas A. Farley was asked about the issue at a press conference on February 16. “My understanding-and I need to reaffirm-people with immunodeficiency due to HIV infection are that full-blown AIDS qualifies as a high-risk criterion defined by the CDC,” Farley said. The news told Philadelphia Gay. “But most people who are infected with HIV and have a normal immune system because they are being treated, and who are infected with HIV, are not. [eligible] now.Now I would say I’m qualified [in the current phase] It does not mean that you are going to take it now.There are hundreds of thousands of people [eligible in the current phase].. I don’t know the details of that individual. However, even if you qualify, you may have had a hard time vaccination like many others. “

In a follow-up email on February 19, a spokesperson for the health sector said: Farley admits on Tuesday that he made the mistake of using the old phrase “genuine” to refer to AIDS, a condition caused by HIV. AIDS is no longer perceived as sensitive and has not reached a science-based language approach. I was careless, but it was wrong. We apologize for any harm or discomfort caused by this. Our team is currently considering recommendations for people living with HIV. They weren’t originally on our list because they weren’t on the CDC Phase 1b list. Due to the healthy immune system, the number of PLWHs that are likely to qualify is small. The majority of PLWHs show normal life expectancy when treated, continued, and achieved and maintained undetectable viral load. These latest treatments also prevent HIV from infecting sex partners. “

Currently in the city Vaccine interest form A place where people who want to get vaccinated can submit information. We will then contact you when you qualify and make a reservation. However, upon request, not all eligible individuals can make a reservation immediately.

Asked about the possibility of prioritizing HIV / AIDS patients, a Health Department spokesman said: “The Vaccine Advisory Board discussed this topic last week and is considering how to implement guidance from the CDC. We understand the sensitivity of this situation and who can detect viral load. We want to ensure that high-risk people have access to it. This is an evolving situation and we hope it will become clear soon. “

Dr. Mark Watkins, the doctor at the Mazzoni Center, said HIV-positive individuals should be eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine at the city’s current distribution stage. “I strongly feel that people living with HIV should already be included,” Watkins told PGN. “Not all people infected with HIV have complete immune reconstitution, so they remain vulnerable to COVID complications.”

Philadelphia Fight Secretary-General Jane Sur also expressed concern about the city’s guidelines. “HIV-infected people, especially those with a CD4 bottom of 200 or less, are concerned about city guidelines as there is increasing scientific evidence that they are more vulnerable to COVID-19 complications. “Shull said. Email. “This means that even if people are doing well now, even if they have a period of less than 200 CD4s, they are still vulnerable.”

Philadelphia city council member Derek Green expressed concern about city guidelines

“It raises some concerns,” Green told Philadelphia Gay News. “I understand the challenges Dr. Farley is working on. He deals with a limited amount of vaccines. But I think I need some additional understanding. At least someone with AIDS. Should be vaccinated. Also, since they are elsewhere in the state, it is advisable to include HIV-infected persons. I have the same risks as any other condition that those individuals are allowed to do. I think I have a high medical condition [the current phase].. “

City councilman Mark Skira has blown up current city guidelines.

“That’s shameful,” Squilla told Philadelphia Gay News. “You’ll be wondering who created these guidelines. If a person infected with HIV isn’t considered immunodeficient, who? They say they’re out of vaccine. , HIV / AIDS people should be part of the current distribution. Just add it as one of the immunodeficiency states. It’s not too difficult. It’s not rocket science. “

A spokeswoman said about the situation Doe encountered at Walgreens: “ShopRite, Walgreens, and Rite Aid Pharmacy qualifications [for] People over the age of 75 living in Philadelphia.We invite people over the age of 75 who are registered in the Vaccine Interest Database [to be vaccinated].. An invitation has been sent to the person who submitted the form of interest to the database. 75 years old and over, if not yet [been vaccinated], You can ask for vaccinations at those pharmacies or sign up for our interest database and you will receive an invitation from us. Those under the age of 75 should not be vaccinated at these pharmacies. You will be able to do it later. I would like to reserve these slots for people over 75 years old. “

Walgreens said: “Philadelphia has several eligibility criteria for vaccination, but at this time the Philadelphia City Authority has instructed us to vaccinate only patients over the age of 75. In this fluid situation, which varies significantly from state to region and region to region, we are working to ensure that these eligibility restrictions are reflected in the scheduler as soon as possible. “

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