Philadelphia’s 2nd FEMA vaccination site opening Saturday

Members of the National Guard administer COVID-19 vaccines at the Esperanza Community Vaccination Center in North Philadelphia on April 9, 2021. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

Members of the National Guard administer COVID-19 vaccines at the Esperanza Community Vaccination Center in North Philadelphia on April 9, 2021. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

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Amid an uptick of new confirmed cases of COVID-19, Philadelphia’s second FEMA vaccination site will officially open on Saturday.

The clinic is located in the parking lot behind Esperanza Academy Charter School in Hunting Park, in one of the city’s most undervaccinated ZIP codes. It will be open six days a week for the next eight weeks and plans to vaccinate up to 3,000 people a day from the city’s allocation from the federal government.

Residents can schedule appointments, but they may also walk up and get inoculated.

“Everybody talks about the light at the end of the tunnel. Well, guess what? That light got a little brighter today,” City Council President Darrell Clarke said during a news conference Friday.

The Esperanza lot was chosen for its proximity to major roadways such as I-95 and Roosevelt Boulevard, as well as public transit, officials said, but also because the city wants to increase the number of vaccinated Black and Hispanic residents, who have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19.

Philadelphians eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine can make appointments or walk up to Esperanza Community Vaccination Center in North Philadelphia, beginning on April 9, 2021. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

“One of the things we’ve learned over the past few weeks is that location matters. That people are more likely to go to vaccination sites close to where they live,” said the city’s health commissioner, Dr. Thomas Farley.

The 19140 ZIP code that includes the high school is, with a handful of surrounding ZIP codes, in the bottom third for vaccinations in the city. 

As of mid-March, only 7% of the population in some predominantly Latino neighborhoods in Philadelphia had registered to receive the vaccine, WHYY’s Billy Penn has reported. By contrast, 55% of residents in parts of Center City had registered.

“For this city, and for our federal and state partners, equity is as important as speed. This new clinic is one example of how we are working aggressively to reduce and eliminate the inequality,” said Mayor Jim Kenney.

The Esperanza Community Vaccination Center will be open from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Mondays and Tuesdays, from noon to 8 p.m. on Wednesdays and Thursdays, and from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. It will be closed on Fridays.

During the first few days of the clinic, people will receive the one-shot vaccine from Johnson & Johnson, said Farley. After that, the site will administer the Pfizer vaccine, which requires two shots.

The clinic follows the city’s first FEMA site at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Center City.

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