PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The Federal Emergency Management Agency will open a mass vaccination site at the Pennsylvania Convention Center. FEMA will bring an extra 30,000 to 40,000 doses of vaccine a week to Philadelphia.
They’re still working out details, like who can get the shots and how, but this is a long-awaited and welcomed announcement.READ MORE: 4 Shot Inside Park City Center Mall, Lancaster Police Say
FEMA could open its mass vaccination site at the convention center as early as March 3. It’s slated to vaccinate 6,000 people a day.
“It’s a very large convention center and it’s got great transportation access of people driving, as well as taking public transit,” Philadelphia Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley said.
FEMA is opening mass clinics at stadiums and convention centers across the country, with Dover, Delaware, being the first in the region.
The emergency management agency comes with it’s own vaccine supplies, which will significantly increase the amount available locally.
“Much is yet to be worked out,” Farley said.
Philadelphia’s health commissioner had been pressing for the more centrally located convention center, instead of Lincoln Financial Field, that’s favored by other political and community leaders.READ MORE: 'Everyone Was In Pure Panic': Good Samaritans Rush To Shooting Victims' Aid At Park City Center Mall
“The convention center is inside. With the weather as you see now, we won’t have the weather problems we would at an outside facility,” Farley said.
The convention center was first staffed by Philly Fighting COVID, a group of college students who were dismissed after improprieties were discovered. The health department has been widely criticized and scrutinized since that episode.
It’s also struggling to get more minorities vaccinated.
“We know we’re not reflective of the city’s population right now,” Farley said.
The city’s population is 40% black — 8% had been vaccinated last month and it’s now up to 20%.
“As we’re increasing the number of people vaccinated, our demographic of those people vaccinated, it is gradually becoming more diverse,” Farley explained.
The health commissioner also said Friday that all of the 29,000 residents over age 75 who signed up for vaccine have been contacted with information about making an appointment.MORE NEWS: Man In Critical Condition After Fairhill Shooting, Police Say
Farley says Rite Aid currently has the largest number of available appointments.