City touts FEMA vaccination center

by Kate Dolan
Posted 3/9/21

The FEMA-run vaccination site at the Pennsylvania Convention Center opened on Wednesday this week, vaccinating 5,600 people on opening day and 6,125 people on Thursday.

The site, which is managed …

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City touts FEMA vaccination center

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The FEMA-run vaccination site at the Pennsylvania Convention Center opened on Wednesday this week, vaccinating 5,600 people on opening day and 6,125 people on Thursday.

The site, which is managed in partnership with the Philadelphia Department of Public Health, aims to vaccinate 6,000 people per day or 500 doses per hour. It is open from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m. seven days a week and will remain open for eight weeks.

“This is a well-oiled machine here, and informally we’ve been conducting some exit interviews,” said Charles Elison, Community Preparedness Officer, FEMA Region 3, on Friday at the Health Commissioner’s weekly briefing on the COVID-19 vaccine. “All feedback is resoundingly positive, on both the speed and efficiency of the process.”

There are 222 marines and sailors on site serving as “a mix of clinicians and logistic support personnel,” said Elison. There are 80 vaccinators who work the entire 12-hour shift.

The site is for those with appointments only. It is not admitting walk-ins but inviting people who have filled out the city’s vaccine interest form and are now entered in the vaccine interest database to make an appointment. As a reminder, Philadelphia residents can sign up on the city’s website and when residents meet eligibility requirements, they will be notified. Currently, the city is vaccinating those who meet Phase 1B eligibility criteria.

There is wheelchair access and caregivers may accompany a patient. ESL interpretation is available as well as assistance in other languages. Elison said U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement will not be enforcing any immigration checks at the site.

The FEMA site joins a growing list of locations in the city’s vaccine distribution program, which now offers the vaccine from 128 different enrolled providers, including hospitals, clinics and pharmacies.

As of last week, 234,000 people in the city have received a first dose, and 110,000 have received their second dose. The number of vaccine administered last week from all providers in the city was 51,300 doses, first and second doses combined. This was up from 40,659 doses the week before.

“That’s the number we are tracking to really measure overall administration,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley of the total doses delivered per week. “That 51,000 is a new high and we expect it to increase from here.”

Of the 275,000 people who have registered via the city’s vaccine interest form, at least 40,000 have been vaccinated as of this week.

The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia’s vaccination of educators and school staff is underway and expanded from the campus’s Roberts Center to six-based school sites this week.

For administration next week, Philadelphia received 19,890 first doses of the Pfizer vaccine and 15,600 doses of the Moderna vaccine. In addition, pharmacy locations are separately receiving approximately 5,000 doses from the federal government.

The city is also getting 13,100 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, the newest single-shot vaccine. The hospitals and community providers that are getting this vaccine are being encouraged to offer it to patients who are hard to reach, transient or have limited mobility due to the one-time administration. The city does not expect to get more Johnson & Johnson vaccine for a few weeks after this initial allotment.

COVID-19 cases in the city remained steady over the past week. At Tuesday’s Philadelphia COVID-19 update press conference, Farley urged caution.

“I am concerned that the previous decline that we’ve been seeing may be stalling,” he said.

“I’m seeing that case counts have been rising in the past week in New York, New Jersey and Delaware.”

On Friday, 273 new cases of COVID-19 were confirmed, bringing the total number since the beginning of the pandemic to 115,028. Eight fatalities were announced bringing the total number of deaths to 3,153. On Friday morning, 248 patients were being treated for the virus in Philadelphia hospitals.

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