PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas got a first-hand look Wednesday at the new FEMA coronavirus vaccination site at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia. This new collaboration with FEMA is aimed at vaccinating as many people as possible during this pilot program.
The site will be open 12 hours a day and up to 6,000 people can be vaccinated each day.READ MORE: WATCH LIVE: Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney, City Officials To Provide COVID-19 Update As Sports Fans Hope To Be Back In Stands Soon
It officially opens on Wednesday but thousands are expected to come out for Tuesday’s soft launch as essential Philadelphia city workers, federal and military staff are lining up to get vaccinated.
For Tuesday, they are testing out the processes in place to ensure everything is smooth sailing when the floodgates open Wednesday.
Right now, the site will focus on phases 1A and 1B. Mayorkas says communities of color are disproportionately affected by COVID-19, and during the eight-week period, they hope to reach vulnerable populations.
Mayorkas says no one’s socio-economic or immigration status should impact their ability to receive a vaccine. He says neither Immigration and Customs Enforcement or U.S. Customs and Border Protection will conduct immigration enforcement operations at, or near, vaccine distribution sites.
“The profile of this urban area, understanding the composition of this urban area, and the fact that there are disenfranchised populations, if we don’t set up a facility like this, it’s of extraordinary importance in the service of equity and public health and I felt it important to represent the federal government here today,” Mayorkas said.READ MORE: 6 Dr. Seuss Books Won’t Be Published For Racist Images
This is in addition to the 20-plus sites already in the city.
They are not taking any walk-ins and they will be turned away.
Health officials say several people who are not yet eligible for the vaccinations still managed to sign up for appointments at the convention center.
Officials think those “line-jumpers,” as they’re called, got access to the link when it was shared with them by people who are eligible.
The health department is now working to weed those people out and cancel their appointments.MORE NEWS: 6 People Injured, Including Child, Following Camden House Fire
An appointment must be made through the city’s portal.