Two federally supported vaccination sites open in California, more to follow

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Guardsmen with the California National Guard assigned to Joint Task Force Mustang attend a morning briefing at California State University, Los Angeles, Feb. 15, 2021. The force has been activated to support the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the state of California's COVID-19 vaccine distribution site. (Air Force photograph by Senior Airman Neil Mabini)
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Two federally supported COVID-19 vaccination sites have opened in California — one in Los Angeles and the other in Oakland.

While the Oakland site is primarily supported by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the site in Los Angeles is staffed by active-duty U.S. military personnel.

Air Force Gen. Glen D. VanHerck, commander of U.S. Northern Command and North American Aerospace Defense Command, said the community vaccination center at California State University Los Angeles is impressive.

“All along we worked with FEMA and the department,” he said during a teleconference on Tuesday. “The target goal for this site was 16 February, and that was delivered on. The site is ramping up quickly … it’ll get towards 6,000 vaccinations per day.”

Air Force Capt. Scott Crandell, right, executive officer of Joint Task Force Mustang in the California National Guard, and Army Sgt. Maj. Robert Hammersley, senior enlisted advisor of JTFM, are briefed about operations at the walk-up section of the COVID-19 vaccine distribution site at California State University, Los Angeles, Feb. 15, 2021. The site was selected for its close proximity to public transportation. (Air Force photograph by Senior Airman Neil Mabini)

VanHerck said the site in Los Angeles — where people will be able to get COVID-19 vaccinations from active-duty military personnel — is a Type 1 site capable of administering as many as 6,000 vaccinations a day. The site is supported by a 222-person Type 1 team consisting of active-duty Army personnel who administer vaccinations and provide supervisory and pharmacy support. 

In all, VanHerck said, FEMA has asked the Defense Department for as many as 50 Type 1 teams to man similar sites that may open in the future, as well as 50 Type 2 teams. A Type 2 team consists of about 139 personnel and can administer 3,000 vaccinations per day.

Right now, the department has identified personnel to man 25 teams, including five Type 1 teams in tranche 1 and 10 of each type of team in tranche 2. So far, the Type 1 team manning the vaccination site in Los Angeles, is the only one that has been deployed; the other 24 teams are on prepare-to-deploy orders.

“They haven’t been given a tasking to deploy at this time,” VanHerck said.

Army Pfc. Jonathan Ha, a soldier with Joint Task Force Mustang of the California National Guard, performs a medical screening using an American Sign Language interpreter at California State University, Los Angeles, Feb. 15, 2021. Interpreters and translators were available both in person and remotely through a mobile device to help ensure accessibility to the COVID-19 vaccine. (Air Force photograph by Senior Airman Neil Mabini)

The sites in Los Angeles and Oakland are only the first. Additional sites are planned in Texas and New York, VanHerck said.

A 222-person Air Force Type 1 team will support a community vaccination center in Houston, while a 139-person Army Type 2 team will support a facility at the Cotton Bowl Stadium in Dallas. In Arlington, Texas, a 139-person Marine Corps Type 2 team will support  community vaccinations at the AT&T Stadium and Globe Life Park. All those sites should be running by Feb. 24, the general said.

In addition, about 280 service members will arrive Friday to support two centers in New York City. It’s expected that a 139-person Navy Type 2 team will support a community vaccination center at York College in Queens, while a 139-person Air Force Type 2 team will support a community vaccination center at Medgar Evers College in Brooklyn. Those sites are also expected to be ready by Feb. 24, VanHerck said.

Robert J. Fenton Jr., the senior official performing the duties of FEMA administrator, said the two pilot sites in California and the follow-on sites in Texas and New York are designed to augment those states’ vaccination efforts.

“We are committed to ensuring everyone who wants a vaccination can get one,” he said.
 
 
 

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