White House partners with Alabama to establish new community vaccination center in Bessemer

Bessemer Mass vaccination site

BESSEMER, Ala. (WBRC) - The White House announced it will partner with the State of Alabama to build a new major Community Vaccination Center (CVC) in Bessemer.

The Type III CVC will be at the Watermark Place in Bessemer. The site will be capable of administering approximately 1,000 shots a day (7,000 doses per week), and will operate seven days per week for an eight-week period.

“The vaccine is our ticket out of COVID-19, and I continue encouraging Alabamians to get their shots. I am pleased that FEMA selected Alabama to house one of their clinics,” Governor Ivey said. “As this clinic gets rolling on April 21, I urge Alabamians still needing their vaccine shots to take advantage of this resource.”

“We are committed to the equitable distribution of the vaccine and our top priority is to ensure everyone who wants a vaccine gets one,” said Gracia Szczech, regional administrator for FEMA Region IV.

The White House has already deployed federal teams to help. The site is expected to be up and running by Wednesday, April 21.

From the White House: During this pilot period, the federal government will provide limited direct vaccine allocation to the site through FEMA—as we do through federal entities for other federal programs. The Watermark Place center will follow Alabama’s vaccine eligibility requirements. The site will offer drive-thru vaccinations. After receiving their vaccination, individuals will proceed to a post-vaccine waiting area for at least 15 minutes, per CDC guidelines, to be monitored for any adverse reactions.

The site was identified using a range of criteria, most central to those is the CDC’s Social Vulnerability Index (SVI). This tool was created to help emergency response planners and public health officials identify and map communities that will most likely need support before, during, and after a hazardous event. The index takes into consideration critical data points, including socioeconomic status, household composition, minority status, languages, housing type and transportation.

The goal of establishing these joint federal pilot centers is to continue to expand the rate of vaccinations in an efficient, effective and equitable manner, with an explicit focus on making sure that communities with a high risk of COVID-19 exposure and infection are not left behind. FEMA and the state will continue reach out to underserved communities in the Birmingham area to inform and build trust about the benefits of getting vaccinated. FEMA has currently obligated over $51.6M to the State of Alabama to support vaccination operations statewide.

Ensuring Vaccine Access to Vulnerable Populations in and around Jefferson County

  • Jefferson County has a population of nearly 660,000 residents and the vaccination rate stands at under 30% as of last week.
  • Jefferson County has a 17% poverty rate and approximately half of its population are minorities. 15.5% of the County’s population has a disability and 15% of the population is over 65 years old. 7.7% of households in the County do not have a vehicle.
  • Adequate parking was considered when selecting the Watermark Place location. The Watermark Place site is located within Jefferson County and will serve the greater Birmingham area and surrounding communities.
  • Seven nearby counties with a range of SVIs can be served by the Jefferson County CVC because Birmingham is the primary employment hub for north central Alabama. Although there are 23 state and local vaccination sites operating in Jefferson County, there remains a public demand for vaccine.

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