FEMA prepares for vaccination clinic at Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- The doors of the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia will open for a FEMA-run vaccination clinic on Wednesday, with a plan to vaccinate 6,000 people per day.

The vaccine clinic is by appointment only. FEMA is notifying eligible people who signed up for vaccine through the vaccine interest form found on the Philadelphia Department of Health website.

The vaccination site will operate seven days a week for eight weeks.

Pfizer will be the vaccine provided for the approximately 336,000 shots administered.

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The U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued an emergency use authorization for the third COVID-19 vaccine developed by Johnson & Johnson.

This weekend, the one-shot Johnson and Johnson vaccine was authorized for emergency use by the FDA.

This week, 13,000 Johnson and Johnson doses will be arriving in Philadelphia.

"We will also have an additional 20 million doses by the end of March. And we're on track to deliver 100 million doses of vaccine by the end of June," said Rick Nettles, Vice President of Medical Affairs, Janssen Infectious Diseases and Vaccines.

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The Johnson and Johnson shot is 85% effective in preventing severe illness. Dr. Jessica Johnson worked on the vaccine trial at Temple University Hospital.

"Preventing 100% hospitalization or death is huge," she said.

The one-shot vaccine can be stored in a regular freezer for up to three months and was tested as new variants of COVID-19 emerged.

"It was conducted really at the height of the pandemic, and the phase three trial was conducted in South Africa and Brazil where we've seen some of the most worrisome variants emerge," said Nettles.

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Gov. Tom Wolf has announced that one restriction in Pennsylvania due to COVID-19 is being lifted, while others are being revised.

As hope for herd immunity grows, so do the populations in new vaccine studies.

"We'll look to use the vaccine in adolescents first and if the vaccine is shown safe in adolescents, we'll try in younger children. Another group that is vulnerable is pregnant women so we're about to start vaccinating 800 pregnant women in the U.S.," said Nettles.
Already up and running is the Black Doctors COVID-19 Consortium walk-up vaccination clinic at the Liacouras Center, run by Dr. Ala Stanford.

She says the newly authorized one-shot Johnson and Johnson vaccine could be utilized to serve often hard-to-reach populations, especially those who can't necessarily commit to two vaccine appointments.

"The homebound, that's a great population. Our folks with intellectual disabilities that live in congregation settings, it's tough for them. Certainly the homeless population," said Dr. Stanford.

The Secretary of Homeland Security will tour the COVID-19 vaccination site at the Convention Center with city leaders on Tuesday.

If you are interested in a vaccine here in Philadelphia but do not have access to a computer, call 311 for help.
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