FEMA opens community coronavirus vaccination centers

New Federal Emergency Management Agency vaccination sites are opening across the country to help vaccinate people in marginalized communities disproportionately affected by the coronavirus pandemic. CBS News reporter Nicole Sganga joined CBSN's Tanya Rivero from a newly opened community vaccination center in Philadelphia.

Video Transcript

TANYA RIVERO: Vaccine sites nationwide are working to reach people from all communities to get the shot against COVID-19. In New Jersey, churches are being used to vaccinate communities doctors have overlooked and under-served. 15% of New Jersey residents are black, but just 4% of those vaccinated in the state are black.

This comes as new FEMA vaccination sites are opening across the country. This one at the convention center in Philadelphia will vaccinate 6,000 people a day starting tomorrow. The center aims to vaccinate marginalized communities disproportionately impacted by the pandemic.

For more on this, I want to bring in CBS News Reporter Nicole Sganga. Hi, Nicole. You are at one of these vaccination centers in Philadelphia. What are you seeing there on the ground?

NICOLE SGANGA: That's right, Tanya. Today, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas announced that the Biden administration has stood up 441 of these community vaccination sites powered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, FEMA, in its first 30 days. That number now stands as-- at over 500 community vaccination centers like the one that I'm in right now in the heart of downtown Philadelphia.

And you can see behind me-- earlier today, Secretary Mayorkas bumped elbows with some of the 222 active duty military troops deployed right now to this vaccination center, members of the Marine Corps, who are working alongside FEMA officials to get shots into arms. Now, as you mentioned, facilities like this specifically target marginalized groups, including Black and Brown communities.

One concern, though, for Homeland Security officials is making sure that members of the Latino community feel comfortable coming to get their vaccinations regardless of their immigration status. Listen to what Secretary Mayorkas told CBS News about that today.

ALEJANDRO MAYORKAS: Immediately-- 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 is currently putting Pfizer vaccines into the arms of state, city, and federal officials today, during what they're calling a soft launch. Tomorrow, this site opens to the general public and is expected to vaccinate 6,000 people per day for the next eight weeks.

But sites like it across the country are going to start receiving the new Johnson & Johnson vaccine, beginning with 70,000 single doses that will be sent to FEMA community vaccination sites next week in California, Texas, and Florida. Tanya.

TANYA RIVERO: Nicole Sganga in Philadelphia, thank you.