Second FEMA vaccine site to open in North Philly

FEMA helps administer COVID-19 vaccines in Philadelphia
A military personnel logs a patient’s information at FEMA’s Community Vaccination Center in Philadelphia.
REUTERS/Hannah Beier

A second federally-backed coronavirus vaccination site will be opening at Esperanza Academy Charter High School in North Philadelphia, city leaders said Monday.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency will begin inoculating 1,500 to 2,500 people per day at the school during the week of April 5, according to Mayor Jim Kenney’s administration.

It will offer “a mix of open access or walk-in opportunities,” in addition to appointments through the city’s online vaccine interest form, said James Garrow, a spokesman for the Philadelphia Department of Public Health.

The announcement came the same day President Joe Biden said 90% of American adults should be eligible to receive the vaccine by April 19.

His administration plans to double the number of pharmacies administering shots through a federal partnership and open a dozen more mass vaccination sites in the coming weeks, according to the White House.

A FEMA site at the Pennsylvania Convention Center that has been vaccinating about 6,000 people a day shifted to second doses last week and is scheduled to close at the end of April.

Garrow said city leaders have requested a formal extension; however, there has been no word from federal officials on the future of the Center City site.

Esperanza Academy Charter High School, on Hunting Park Avenue near 3rd Street, was selected because it is located in an area that has among the lowest rates of vaccination in Philadelphia, the city said in a statement.

Officials also cited Esperanza’s connection with the Latino community and the school’s proximity to Roosevelt Boulevard and I-95.

“This new vaccination center is particularly important because it will allow us to better reach under-vaccinated populations,” Kenney said in a statement.

“We have three goals for distributing vaccines: do it fast, do it so we can save the most lives, and do it equitably,” Philadelphia Health Commissioner Thomas Farley said. “A site like this, in this neighborhood, is a big step toward achieving those goals.”

Farley has said that the city anticipates administering 160,000 doses a week — 50% more than the current pace — by the end of next month. He has also projected that half of adult residents and 75% of those over the age of 65 would be at least partially vaccinated by late April.

City officials have said Philadelphia would move to Phase 1C of the vaccination roll-out, which includes essential workers not covered under previous eligibility groups, sometime in April, with all adults being able to sign up on May 1.

Nearly 22% of the city’s population, or 342,621 people, have received at least one vaccine dose, according to the health department’s dashboard, which was last updated Friday.