COVID-19 Vaccine Update (revised 3/5/2021)

Do I need an appointment to get the vaccine?

YES, but do NOT call us for a COVID-19 vaccine appointment.

  • Our waiting list for vaccine appointments is currently full.
  • Our online form to request a vaccine appointment at Esperanza Health Center will be back once we are able to schedule more patients – please check this page again for updates.
  • Visit the City of Philadelphia Department of Public Health website to complete a COVID-19 Vaccine Interest Form.
  • Visit the VaccineFinder website to search for other locations with current vaccine availability.


To be eligible to receive the vaccine at this time, you must meet the following criteria (Phase 1b of the City’s vaccine plan):

  1. You must have a Philadelphia home address AND
  2. You must be in one of the categories below:
  • Age 75 and older
  • Have one of the following high risk health conditions, including:
    • cancer
    • chronic kidney disease
    • chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
    • certain heart conditions ((such as heart failure, coronary artery disease, or cardiomyopathies)
    • weakened immune system because of organ transplant status
    • HIV (any stage, asymptomatic or AIDS)
    • obesity with BMI over 35
    • sickle cell disease
    • Types 1 and 2 Diabetes
    • Down syndrome
    • pregnancy

    Note: as more vaccines become available, smokers and persons with obesity with BMI between 30 and 35 will be included

  •  High risk for exposure & perform essential duties due to employment

(The categories above are from Phase 1b of the City’s vaccine plan. For more details on the above categories, please see p. 9-12 of the City’s COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Plan:

Additional important information for Esperanza Health Center patients who wish to request a vaccine appointment: 

  • We will try to make vaccines available during your scheduled medical appointments with your primary medical clinician.
  • We will also send text messages to patients who qualify (as described above) asking them if they WANT to receive the vaccine. These text messages will be sent slowly over many weeks.
    • If you reply “Yes,” we will call YOU within a few days to schedule you for the vaccine (there is no need to call us).
  • If you are at high risk for exposure & perform essential duties in your job, please send us a message in your patient portal account, stating the type of work you do and that you would like to receive the vaccine.
    • We will then be in touch with you to schedule you for the vaccine (there is no need to call us).

 Please Note: This process will take a number of months to complete.  

  • Vaccines will NOT be given to persons that have not been pre-scheduled in one of these ways. 
  • Do not come for an appointment unless you were scheduled as above.
  • Given extreme staff limitations causing overloaded phone lines, we ask that you please do not call us to request a vaccine.  
  • Please continue to visit this page of our website regularly for ongoing updates about COVID vaccination – we will make regular updates to this page as more information becomes available.
  • We request your PATIENCE with this process, even as we too are being patient—thank you!

Questions or concerns about the vaccine? Now is the time to discuss any questions or concerns you may have about the vaccine with your primary care provider. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Does the vaccine work?

The currently available vaccines are 94-95% effective at preventing COVID illness.

I'm worried about side effects.

The vaccine commonly causes mild to moderate symptoms such as pain at the injection site, fatigue, headache, muscle pain, chills, joint pain and fever which typically resolve in 1-2 days, and typically improve with Tylenol or Motrin. Worse side effects such as severe allergic reaction are very rare, and occur typically in a patient who has had a severe allergic reaction.

Are the vaccines safe?

Yes. All the COVID-19 vaccines being used have gone through rigorous studies to ensure they are as safe as possible.  Tens of thousands of people participated in clinical trials, including people of all ages, races and ethnicities. The trials also included people who have other health conditions, such as diabetes, HIV, heart disease, lung disease and more — and there were no specific complications for these groups, either. The top vaccine experts in the world reviewed and approved the results of these trials. For more information, visit the CDC website.

Can the vaccine give you COVID-19?

No. None of the COVID-19 vaccines contain the live virus that causes COVID-19. This means that a COVID-19 vaccine cannot make you sick with COVID-19. You do not need to quarantine after receiving the vaccine.

What does Esperanza recommend?

We strongly encourage you to consider getting the vaccine once it is available to protect yourself and your loved ones. We recommend the vaccine for all patients except those who have a history of severe allergic reactions to injectable medications.

Help Slow the Spread of COVID-19!

Distributing the vaccine will take time and patience. We all need to keep doing our part to slow the spread of COVID-19 by doing the following:

  • Wear a mask/face covering over your nose and mouth.
  • Practice physical distancing of at least 6 feet.
  • Wash your hands regularly for 20 seconds
  • Avoid indoor gatherings with those outside your immediate household.