OAKLAND, Calif. - The Oakland Coliseum's FEMA and Cal OES mass vaccination site went active Tuesday with the intent of delivering 6,000 vaccinations seven, days a week for as long as it takes to inoculate everybody in the county who wants it.
The site, scheduled to open at 9 a.m., along with another at Cal State Los Angeles, opened a little late. Both sites are available by appointment only.
The massive sites, a Governor's Office of Emergency Services and Federal Emergency Management Agency joint operation, are a monumental effort.
"We built a little city here as you can see. There's tents, there's people, there's drive through lanes," said Tiny Curry, Assistant OES Director.
Though the opening was a bit delayed, the first folks were very grateful that they got early appointments for early vaccinations.
"Everybody has been very polite and so on about it. Being the first one, I guess they had some kinks to work out," said vaccine recipient John Rommel who was first in line.
But worth it? "Yes it is and I'm nervous and also very excited," said vaccine recipient Linda Bowden.
Every day, the goal is to make those 6,000 daily vaccinations easier to accomplish even beyond the Coliseum's fences.
"Our partners here are also bringing trucks with mobile vaccines that will be going out, we believe at the end of this week to community based sites," said Rebecca Kaplan, a member of the Oakland City Council.
Practice will make perfect.
"At the end of the day, we're gonna make some adjustments for things that could go better, more swiftly, said OES's Curry.
Though initially dedicated to Alameda County, especially its vast underserved populations, it's possible this site's reach may be extended to others.
"Certainly we hope to serve as many as we can while we're here with a real focus on this community," said Ms. Curry.
Beyond the Coliseum, the pandemic has presented FEMA with one of, if not its biggest, coordinating operations ever. It literally covers every individual in every state, district, territory and protectorate from Puerto Rico in the Caribbean to Guam in the western Pacific, 9,400 miles away.
"We know we've got 50 states declared under presidential disaster declarations, which is huge, number one. That's never happened. The amount of military personnel that we're talking about deploying across the United States is the largest in history," said emergency management consultant and former FEMA Presidential Appointee Mark Neveau. When one adds in U.S. military bases and embassies, it is truly a worldwide event.