FEMA to help vaccinate people in Portsmouth

Posted at 2:27 PM, Mar 10, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-10 16:45:53-05

PORTSMOUTH, Va. - Portsmouth will be among the first communities in Virginia to have a mass vaccination clinic through FEMA.

FEMA is setting up three in Virginia next week, including in Portsmouth. Exact details are still being worked out, officials said.

In a recent video, FEMA explained how they determine which areas to target.

"We take a look at where the population is most dense and where we have the highest social vulnerability," said Jo Linda Johnson, the director of FEMA's Office of Equal Rights.

Social vulnerability is a metric from the CDC to help public health officials identify which communities may need more support during something like a pandemic. The closer the number is to one, the more vulnerable the community is.

Based off the most recent data available, Portsmouth's social vulnerability index is .79, the highest in Hampton Roads. Portsmouth has also vaccinated the fewest people in Hampton Roads per 100,000 people.

"The sites were selected through an assessment of all the governments. We were looking for large sites that are accessible to the public," said Curtis Brown, Virginia's Coordinator of Emergency Management.

The Portsmouth Health Department has been vaccinating people at the Sportsplex, but officials say they're still working to identify the site of the FEMA clinic. People must be pre-registered to attend and will be contacted if they are invited.

"We'll continue to use the data. At some point when we move to a different phase of the response, we'll open it up a little more, but right now it's only for those who registered," said Brown.

FEMA is spending $179 million in Virginia to help with the vaccination process. These sites will be big, but not massive.

"These are intended to be large scale vaccination events able to vaccinate between several hundred to several thousand people a day," said Gov. Northam.

More details will be released over the next week, officials said.