After receiving her doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine on March 8 and March 29, Anna Wright is optimistic that the pandemic may soon be coming to an end.
“It feels very hopeful,” said Wright, a senior journalism major. “It feels like there is this kind of light at the end of the tunnel.”
Some eligible Temple University students are receiving COVID-19 vaccines at the Federal Emergency Management Agency-backed vaccination clinic in the Pennsylvania Convention Center on Arch Street near 13th. Students who are city residents and are in Philadelphia’s Phase 1B vaccination group feel lucky to receive the vaccine and hope the city’s rollout will lead to a more normal-feeling summer with fewer restrictions on gatherings.
The city is currently in vaccination Phase 1B, which includes frontline essential workers, people aged 65 years or older, people with high-risk medical conditions and people working or residing in congregate settings, according to the Philadelphia Department of Public Health.
The Pennsylvania Convention Center vaccination site, which officially opened March 3, is open every day from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m. The clinic, run by FEMA, the federal agency that provides nationwide emergency assistance, provided first doses of the Pfizer vaccine during the first three weeks. From March 24 to April 14, the site will administer second doses, said James Garrow, a spokesperson for the Philadelphia Department of Public Health.
The clinic is one of more than 440 FEMA vaccination centers created to reach President Joe Biden’s plan of distributing 100 million shots in 100 days, according to a Feb. 26 release by FEMA.
Residents complete an online interest form on the Philadelphia Department of Public Health’s website and wait to be contacted to schedule a vaccination appointment.
Wright completed the city’s vaccine interest form on March 6 because she was eligible in the 1B category as a childcare worker. She didn’t expect to be eligible to receive the vaccine until much later in the year, she added.
“I thought maybe I’d be vaccinated by summertime,” Wright said. “I don’t have any other health conditions, so I didn’t feel like I was that much of a priority.”
The FEMA clinic will likely provide the single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine from April 14 to April 28, after which the site will close, Garrow added.
The clinic averages 6,000 doses each day, and as of March 22, the clinic had administered 121,703 vaccine doses, Garrow wrote in an email to The Temple News.
Thomas Farley, the Philadelphia health commissioner, expects the city to move to Phase 1C in April and Phase 2 on May 1, The Temple News reported.
FEMA will open a second vaccination site next week at Esperanza Academy Charter High School on Hunting Park Avenue near Third Street, which will provide between 1,500 and 2,000 vaccines per day, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported.
Brina Martin received her first dose of the Pfizer vaccine on March 10 because she’s a member service representative at the YMCA of Columbia North on Broad Street near Master, she said. She was worried about going to work and possibly infecting herself or her family.
“It feels good to have some sort of protection now, but once I get the second vaccine I’ll feel a lot better,” said Martin, a junior international business major.
Martin didn’t spend much time waiting in line at the FEMA site even though the line wrapped around the block when she got there, she said.
“I thought I was going to be in line for hours when I first saw the line, but it took about 30 minutes in line,” Martin added.
Experts say the United States will reach herd immunity, the point when enough people are protected against infection that a virus cannot spread through the population, by vaccinating between 65 and 80 percent of the population, CNN reported on Feb. 26.
Seventy percent of the U.S. population could be vaccinated by mid-June and 90 percent could be vaccinated by the end of July, the New York Times reported.
Nicole Piusienski, a sophomore criminal justice major who works in the grocery section of Target on Sixth Street near Spring Garden, felt lucky when she got an email on March 9 with a link to sign up for a vaccine appointment after registering online, she said.
Piusienski got her first dose of the Pfizer vaccine on March 10 and scheduled her second dose for tomorrow. She waited at the Pennsylvania Convention Center clinic for about an hour and a half on March 9 but didn’t mind because everyone around her seemed happy to be getting vaccinated, she said.
“It was like a surreal moment kind of because it’s been so long in the making, waiting for the vaccine,” Piusienski said. “I was just so grateful that I could get one and that I was going to be helping to go toward a solution.”