On March 3, 2021, FEMA, other federal partners, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and the City of Philadelphia partnered to open the Center City Vaccination Center (CCVC) in Philadelphia, PA. With an allocation of 6,000 COVID-19 vaccines per day on top of the City’s regular vaccine allotment, the CCVC has served to expand the rate of vaccination in Philadelphia in an efficient, effective, and equitable manner. Located at the Pennsylvania Convention Center, the CCVC occupies a centrally located, accessible location and is served by a robust municipal transit system. It is staffed primarily by over 100 federal staff and over 250 members of the Department of Defense, who provide both clinical and non-clinical support.
Operating 12 hours a day, seven days a week, the CCVC administered over 240,000 first and second doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine in its first six weeks.
Given its success in augmenting Philadelphia’s vaccination efforts, the City has requested an extension of the CCVC. After reviewing several options with FEMA, the City of Philadelphia has elected to extend the CCVC as a federally supported vaccination center for an additional four weeks. Together and with our partners, FEMA and the City of Philadelphia will continue to provide up to 6,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine per day at the CCVC.
Janice Barlow, Acting FEMA Region 3 Administrator, expressed FEMA’s ongoing commitment to the vaccination mission in Philadelphia, “FEMA and our federal, state, and local partners have been working tirelessly over the last several weeks to vaccinate thousands of Philadelphians at the Center City Vaccination Center. This site was one of the first of its kind in the nation and has served as a model of equity and efficiency with regards to vaccine distribution to many other areas in the country. We are proud to continue our partnership with the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the City of Philadelphia to get even more Philadelphians vaccinated over an additional four weeks, especially as eligibility expands.”
“The Center City Vaccination Center has been an extremely successful part of the City’s overall COVID-19 vaccine effort,” said Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney. “This partnership of federal, state, and local agencies has not only provided hundreds of thousands of doses of life-saving vaccine, but has worked to increase the equitable distribution of that vaccine. I am pleased to see their mission be extended.”
“Cases of COVID-19 are continuing to rise in Philadelphia and the surrounding region, which means it’s more important than ever that every Philadelphian be vaccinated,” said Philadelphia Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley. “The Center City Vaccination Center has been a key component of our overall strategy to make vaccines easily available to everyone who is eligible in Philadelphia.”
Although initially appointment only, to help bridge the digital divide and improve equitable vaccine distribution across the city, the CCVC offered open access and walk-up clinic vaccination opportunities for residents in the City’s most under-vaccinated communities. This open access opportunities resulted in a material increase in residents from these underserved communities getting vaccinated.
The CCVC is staffed by FEMA Civil Rights Advisors and Disability Integration Advisors to ensure the vaccination process is accessible and equitable. To meet the needs of Philadelphia’s diverse communities, on average 19 on-site language interpreters support the CCVC every day, primarily in Mandarin, Cantonese, Spanish, Vietnamese, Portuguese, Indonesian, and American Sign Language. Translation services are augmented by a telephonic language line that covers over 100 additional languages.
The CCVC provides an expedited vaccination process for people with access and functional needs. Over 50 wheelchairs are available and used at the CCVC each day. Volunteers from several voluntary service organizations accompany visitors who need assistance, allowing the visitor to move through the vaccination process more smoothly. The CCVC also includes privacy and sensory rooms for visitors who wish to receive their vaccine in private or have sensory sensitivity considerations, which include items like noise-canceling headphones.
With the extension, the CCVC will continue to operate through May 25, 2021. Since the City of Philadelphia’s decision to pause the Johnson and Johnson vaccine well before the CCVC’s opening on April 13th, the CCVC was able to quickly and safely pivot to continuing the administration of first doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. No Johnson and Johnson vaccines were delivered at the CCVC on that day and the pivot back to Pfizer was a true testament to the hard work, dedication and focus on patient safety displayed on a daily basis by all interagency partners involved in the large vaccination center’s daily operations.
Vaccines will be provided using a mix of scheduled appointments as well as opportunities for same-day walk-ups. The Philadelphia Department of Public Health will schedule appointments for Philadelphia residents who have completed the City’s Vaccine Interest form between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m.. If residents do not have internet access, have issues filling out the online form, or need the form in an additional language, they should call 3-1-1. City residents will also be permitted to walk up without an appointment between 8 a.m. and 4:00 p.m.
To check current vaccine eligibility in Philadelphia, please visit the Philadelphia Department of Public Health website.
FEMA’s mission is helping people before, during, and after disasters