Mar 10, 2022 - COVID

Philadelphia misreported vaccination rates

Illustration of a syringe glitching.

Illustration: Allie Carl/Axios

Philadelphia had been over-reporting vaccination figures, the city's health department acknowledged late Tuesday. And it appears the errors had gone undetected for weeks.

  • "No one is more disappointed than we are at this error, but we have corrected it and instituted new measures to ensure that any future problems are caught before they go live," Health Commissioner Cheryl Bettigole said in a statement.

Driving the news: This revelation came just as the city moved to a mask-optional policy in schools — and it follows the lifting of Philly's indoor mask mandate last week.

  • Despite the discrepancies, Bettigole maintains the decision to drop the mask mandate because of low case counts.

By the numbers: As recently as Monday, the city touted that 53.6% of kids ages 5-11 had at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. But the corrected rate, as of Wednesday, is 34.2% — a difference of nearly 20 percentage points.

  • About 26% of children ages 5-11 have received both doses so far, per updated figures.

Meanwhile, fully vaccinated children 12 and older were slightly over-reported as well — 75.4% compared to the prior 76%.

  • The city dashboard has also been corrected to show 76.4% of adults are fully vaccinated, rather than the previously reported 82%.

The intrigue: The Philadelphia Inquirer released an analysis last week questioning the accuracy of the department's reported vaccination rate for children.

Of note: The city's risk levels under its new COVID-19 response system are not dependent on vaccination rates. They are based on positivity and hospitalization rates.


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