UPMC Opens Pittsburgh Mills COVID-19 Vaccine Clinic To Walk-Ins

UPMC had about 6,000 vaccine doses to use on Wednesday, but only about 3,200 people showed up for the large-scale vaccination clinic. That’s why UPMC staff is encouraging anyone to get out to the Pittsburgh Mills Mall on Thursday; KDKA's Nicole Ford reports.

Video Transcript

KEN RICE: A line of cars at the Galleria at Pittsburgh Mills. People getting COVID vaccinations at a drive-through clinic that was supposed to offer the Johnson & Johnson vaccine but ended up with Pfizer's, and that wasn't the only change in that program. What was an appointment-only clinic opened up to everyone.

KRISTINE SORENSEN: This is all coming on the heels of yesterday's news that the J&J vaccine was being put on pause here and around the country. And right now the CDC is meeting to figure out what to do about it. The pause had UPMC making those last-minute changes to today's clinic.

Nicole Ford's live to show us how it all worked and when it starts back up again. Nicole.

NICOLE FORD: Kristine, Ken, UPMC had about 6,000 vaccine doses they were planning to give out today, and they're estimating only about 3,200 people showed up. You can see behind me some of those last-minute people rolling in here as the clinic closed at 5:00, but they are encouraging everyone. These tents are not going anywhere. This clinic will reopen tomorrow morning at 8 o'clock, and they want you to come out here to get a shot of the Pfizer vaccine.

Come right off the exit and immediately you are greeted.

- Welcome to the UPMC Pittsburgh Penguins COVID-19 vaccine clinic.

NICOLE FORD: It's hard to miss the big, white tent filtering people in to get a Pfizer vaccine.

JOHN BOGEN: It was like pulling teeth to get an appointment because even though we both have outstanding health issues, we just wasn't old enough and everything. But when they finally opened it up to where we could get it, they give us an appointment down here right away.

NICOLE FORD: And once John Bogen was here, he says it was simple.

JOHN BOGEN: Actually it was really, really slick. We just come off. There was hardly any traffic. Things moved quite smoothly and everything, and everybody was real nice and pleasant to talk to and everything.

NICOLE FORD: From the start to the waiting area, it took only about four minutes.

DIANE HUPP: We have 35 vaccination tents. Each vaccination tent has a pit-crew model. Pit-crew model has one individual vaccinating, second individual performing clinical screening, and a third individual as an extra set of hands to help.

NICOLE FORD: While this clinic originally was giving out the J&J shot, the FDA's pause on distribution forced UPMC to pivot.

DIANE HUPP: It took some preparation, but we gathered very quickly, got a lot of people involved, and were able to pivot to be able to transition safely to the Pfizer. The biggest issue with transitioning is really the pharmaceutical preparation and making sure that we had enough pharmacy techs, pharmacists on site to be able to manage the Pfizer.

NICOLE FORD: As availability for the vaccine opens up, UPMC's Diane Hupp says she's seeing less people come out, leaving more appointments to accommodate walk-ins on Wednesday and Thursday. If you have any concern on the quick changes to Pfizer and getting a second dose, UPMC already secured those second doses for May 6 and 7.

JOHN BOGEN: And I don't think it's the oncoming train. I think it's actually the end of the tunnel.

NICOLE FORD: Again, UPMC still has thousands of vaccine doses available to give out. You can show up tomorrow morning here at the Pittsburgh Mills Mall parking lot starting at 8 o'clock in the morning. The clinic will be open until 5:00. No appointment necessary and no preregistration.

Reporting live at the Pittsburgh Mills Mall, Nicole Ford, KDKA News.