PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- On Wednesday, the City of Philadelphia opened walk-up access to eligible people from 22 under-vaccinated zip codes to the FEMA site at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Center City. The walk-up access will run for six days, through March 22, only if openings are still available.
According to Philadelphia Health Commissioner Thomas Farley, the change from an appointment-only site is intended to provide easier access to the COVID-19 vaccine for Philadelphians who live in zip codes that have the lowest rates of vaccinations. You can find the zip codes at the bottom of this article.
The walk-up vaccinations will be open to those who meet phase 1a and 1b eligibility criteria and can prove that they live in the zip codes using an ID card, a piece of mail with an address, or a PHL City ID.
"I should note, that if you're from Philadelphia and you're not from the 22 designated zip codes and you come there without an appointment, you'll be assisted with getting into the database for a future appointment. You will not be able to get into the database that day. And if you're not a resident of Philadelphia and you don't have an appointment, you'll be politely turned away," Farley said.
Farley said those looking to get vaccinated through a walk-up appointment should arrive at the clinic before 5 p.m. and be prepared to wait. The entrance to the Center City vaccination site is on the northeast corner of 12th and Arch streets.
He also announced assistance with transportation.
The city and SEPTA are teaming up to offer free roundtrip transit passes for those in the targeted zip codes. People 65 or older can already ride for free, but SEPTA is expanding its Customized Community Transportation rides, known as CCT, so those who need assistance getting to a vaccine clinic can use it, too.
"There will be two days with assistance provided from West and Southwest Philadelphia, two days in North Philadelphia and two days in areas of the Northeast and Lower Northeast that are the most under-vaccinated. Two days in North Philadelphia and two days in areas of the Northeast and Lower Northeast that are the most under-vaccinated. There will be CCT service and free transit passes," Farley said.
You can call 311 to schedule a time.
And there are several parking garages around the Convention Center which are offering discounted rates if you show your vaccine card.
Farley also said he wanted to clear up misinformation about who can walk up.
"In some cases, the message is getting out that all of our clinics are walk-up. That's not true, and we don't want people showing up at our clinics assuming they can get vaccinated if they don't have an appointment. We will allow walk-ups only if appointments are still available," Farley said.
Additionally, Independence Blue Cross on Market Street in Center City announced Tuesday that they are partnering with Vybe Urgent Care.
People must meet current eligibility guidelines and make an appointment on Vybe's website or by calling 215-999-3715. You do not need to be a Blue Cross member, and there's no cost for the vaccine.
So far, the city says they've been able to administer half a million doses of vaccine.
About 150,000 Philadelphians are also now fully vaccinated.
With supplies of vaccines increasing, the health department has also been expanding its mass vaccination sites throughout the city.
The first one opened up Wednesday in South Philadelphia at the Grand Yesha Ballroom.
"We've been through a number of iterations of clinics, mass clinics, FEMA, all the stuff we're doing, but we also find that people from the neighborhoods sometimes are reluctant to come to other places," Mayor Jim Kenney said. "So, we want to try and bring as many vax sites to neighborhoods as possible."
Ten stations were set up at the appointment-based site.
An estimated 350 people in the 1a or 1b category are expected to receive a Pfizer vaccine daily with more expected in the coming weeks.
"It's critically important that sites like these are in the core of the communities," said council member Kenyatta Johnson.
A second site in South Philadelphia is expected to open Friday.
The following zip codes are eligible for walk-up vaccinations at the FEMA site:
West and Southwest Philadelphia
Northeast and Lower Northeast Philadelphia