Second FEMA supported vaccination clinic opens Saturday in North Philadelphia

Philadelphia opened its second federally-supported mass vaccination clinic at the Esperanza Community Center in Feltonville on Saturday as the city looks to ramp up its effort to innoculate over 1M residents.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), which has collaborated with Philadelphia to run the mega site at the Pennsylvania Convention Center, said the Esperanza Community Vaccination Center on 4200 block of North 5th Street has the capacity to deliver 1500–2,500 vaccinations per day. 

Mayor Jim Kenney, Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley, FEMA Administrator Janice Barlow, and Pa. National Guard Brigadier General Edwards Little helped commemorate the new site Friday morning.

Kenney, a Democrat, said Esperanza Community Center will help Philadelphia continue its push to deliver the coronavirus vaccine to underrepresented communities that have been hit hardest by the pandemic. 

"We are extremely aware of and focused on the disparity between the vaccination rates of white residents and residents of color," Kenney said. "For this city and our federal and state partners, equity is as important as speed."

The Health Department has supplemented federally-supported sites with a number of smaller mass vaccination clinics around the city over the past several months designed to cater to underprivileged neighborhoods. Dr. Farley on Good Day Philadelphia said the city is up to 230 enrolled vaccine providers with plans for further expansion. 

"Everybody always talks about the light at the end of the tunnel, well guess what, that light got a little brighter today," Philadelphia City Councilmember Darrell L. Clarke said. He echoed Kenney by saying the COVID-19 pandemic "prioritized communities of color."

Philadelphia will open its second federally-supported mass vaccination site.

Dr. Thomas Farley, who has lead Philadelphia's COVID-19 response, said the Esperanza clinic is in the center of the most under-vaccinated part of the city. It was strategically selected due to its proximity to transit lines, Roosevelt Boulevard and I-95, according to Farley.

The Esperanza Community Center will start administering the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine and will switch to the two-dose Pfizer shot after about a week, Farley said. The site will entertain a combination of appointments and walk-ins.

Health officials on Monday will expand vaccine eligibility to all of Phase 1C, which includes sanitation workers, maintenance and janitorial staff, utility workers, and postal and package delivery workers. Most people who cannot work remotely, like transportation workers, media members and social service workers, are also included in Phase 1C. 

People 65+, healthcare workers, long-term care staff, and residents remain vaccine eligible as the city's stockpile of doses grows. Dr. Farley urged anyone who is vaccine eligible, especially those at high-risk, to get their shot now before the city opens enrollment to all people 16 and over on April. 19.


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