FEMA opening hundreds of COVID-19 vaccination sites nationwide

Hundreds of FEMA vaccination sites are opening up nationwide. Government officials say the goal is to increase vaccine access to underserved communities hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. CBS News reporter Nicole Sganga goes inside one site that's set to open to the public in Philadelphia.

Video Transcript

- Hundreds of FEMA vaccination sites are opening up nationwide. One will officially open up in Philadelphia Wednesday. Earlier, DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas toured the site. CBS News, Homeland Security, and justice reporter Nicole Sganga was there.

NICOLE SGANGA: Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas toured this facility this morning, a community vaccination site in Philadelphia. He also announced that there were 440 others like it that were set up in the first 30 days of the Biden administration. Today, there are more than 500 community vaccination sites powered by FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, across the country.

Secretary Mayorkas bumped elbows with some of the 222 active military troops deployed at this site this morning as he toured the facility, members of the Marine Corps that are working alongside FEMA staff to put shots into arms. Now, here they're distributing the Pfizer vaccine. There was a soft launch today where state, federal, and local officials got shots in their arms.

Tomorrow, they open to the general public and are expected to distribute 6,000 vaccinations a day for the next eight weeks. Now, facilities like this target marginalized groups, including Black and brown communities. One concern by Homeland Security officials is ensuring that members of the Latino community feel comfortable approaching federal authorities for their vaccinations regardless of their immigration status. Listen to this by Secretary Mayorkas today.

ALEJANDRO MAYORKAS: Immediately, we announced publicly that Immigration and Customs Enforcement as well as CBP, Customs and Border Protection, will not undertake operations near vaccination clinics and vaccination sites. We issued that at the very outset of February. And that has held true. And we're very mindful of the fact that people need to access medical attention in the fight against this pandemic irrespective of their immigration status in the United States. And we are executing on that overarching public health imperative.

NICOLE SGANGA: Now, this facility will get only the Pfizer vaccine. But others like it across the country will soon be receiving the Johnson & Johnson new single-dose vaccine in short order. Currently, there are 70,000 headed to FEMA vaccination sites in Florida, California, and Texas. [? Elaine-- ?]

- Nicole, thanks.