Padilla, Feinstein Call on FEMA to Keep Oakland Coliseum, CSULA Vaccine Sites Operational

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Alex Padilla (D-Calif.) and Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) requested that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) work with state and local governments to keep the federally run vaccine sites at the Oakland Coliseum and California State University, Los Angeles operational. While the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (CalOES) and the Counties of Alameda and Los Angeles are actively working to find ways to continue to operate these two sites, FEMA is currently scheduled to close these sites on April 11.

In their letter to Acting FEMA Administrator Bob Fenton, Padilla and Feinstein write “to request that FEMA work closely with them to ensure these critical sites can continue to administer vaccinations and combat the COVID-19 pandemic. In particular, we ask that you provide the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (CalOES) and the Counties of Alameda and Los Angeles with financial and logistical support so they can take over operations, and that the federal government continues to send the sites direct shipments of vaccine doses.”

They go on to note that “the Oakland Coliseum and California State University, Los Angeles, sites are essential parts of California’s vaccine distribution efforts. According to CalOES, both centers regularly administer more than 7,500 doses a day—well above the initial projection of 6,000—which significantly bolsters regional capacity.”

Last week, during a Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing, Senator Padilla urged FEMA to continue building partnerships with state and local government to maintain the success of federally operated mass vaccination sites. 

The full text of the letter available here and below.

Dear Acting Administrator Fenton:

We understand that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) plans to cease operations at both of California’s Federal Pilot Community Vaccination Centers on April 11, but that state and local officials are trying to find ways to keep them open. We write to request that FEMA work closely with them to ensure these critical sites can continue to administer vaccinations and combat the COVID-19 pandemic. In particular, we ask that you provide the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (CalOES) and the Counties of Alameda and Los Angeles with financial and logistical support so they can take over operations, and that the federal government continues to send the sites direct shipments of vaccine doses.

While we understand that some federal mass vaccination sites may have been more effective than others, the Oakland Coliseum and California State University, Los Angeles, sites are essential parts of California’s vaccine distribution efforts. According to CalOES, both centers regularly administer more than 7,500 doses a day—well above the initial projection of 6,000—which significantly bolsters regional capacity. The Oakland site, for example, administers 10,000 more doses per week than the rest of Alameda County combined. In total, and in fewer than six weeks, the two sites have distributed over half a million doses, with about 67% going to underserved communities and people of color. These sites are succeeding in reducing racial disparities in distribution and in reaching residents who might not otherwise have access to a vaccine.

Furthermore, California intends to make all residents age 16 and older eligible for a vaccine next month. With this large expansion imminent – combined with highly transmissible variants spreading quickly across counties, the economy reopening, and spring break travel upon us – we believe this is precisely the time when mass vaccination sites, like the ones in Oakland and Los Angeles, are needed. It would be counterproductive to close them before the vast majority of the population is vaccinated.

Although FEMA management of these sites may be coming to an end, the federal government must ensure that state and local governments have the support they need to step in and continue operating them.  We appreciate your attention to this matter and stand ready to help however we can.

Sincerely, 

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