FEMA COVID vaccine site opens at Pennsylvania Convention Center

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Thousands of Philadelphia residents with appointments are now being vaccinated at the FEMA mass vaccination clinic at the Pennsylvania Convention Center during its first full day of operation.

It's easy to tell the military is involved in running the clinic, not only because of the uniforms of those at the site, but also the efficiency of the operation.

For some, receiving the first dose of the Pfizer vaccine Wednesday was part of a special moment in many ways.

"Today is my birthday," said Philadelphia resident Madelle Oliveri.

Oliveri said she's happy to be in and out quickly so she could enjoy the rest of her day.

"It was no wait at all. Everything was good," Oliveri said.

Her son, Philadelphia firefighter Demetrio Oliveri, is already fully vaccinated and said it was a gift to him as well to bring his mother on her birthday.

"I was worried about her, especially being around her; I haven't been around my mom that much or many people since this all started, but hopefully this will bring us back to some type of normalcy," Demetrio Oliveri said.

To help get to that point of normalcy, the mass vaccination clinic will be open seven days a week for the next six weeks.

The line was long at times, but the military is running a tight operation by keeping it moving as quickly as possible.

"Considering the line that was going outside the building, I was a little nervous, but once you got in, everything was smooth," said Philadelphia resident Joan Mulville.

The process is 25 minutes once inside. It breaks down to 10 minutes to get your vaccine and then a 15-minute waiting period to be observed before leaving.

FEMA and Philadelphia Department of Public Health officials said the goal is to vaccinate 6,000 Philadelphia residents with appointments each day at this location.

"I got the shot, and I also made the next appointment within the next 21 days and that was it," said Philadelphia resident Jia Chen.

Receiving that second dose on time will complete the process.

The mass vaccination clinic is appointment only. Residents must first complete the health department's vaccination interest form online or call 311.

SEE ALSO: Philly's FEMA mass vaccination site hits snag before it opens
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The Philadelphia Health Department says it's taking action after ineligible people were able to get an appointment for a vaccine days before the doors of the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia open for a FEMA-run vaccination clinic.

Earlier this week, the Philadelphia Department of Public Health said it's taking action after ineligible people were able to get an appointment for a vaccine at the FEMA-run vaccination clinic.

Officials said a private online link meant for essential workers to schedule a vaccine appointment at the Convention Center was inappropriately shared. The health department was working to remove the ineligible sign-ups.

"The headache and strain this has caused not only is frustrating but as stated, could deny lifesaving vaccine to someone who fits all eligibility criteria," said the health department in a statement.
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